Separating couples are being urged to use mediation instead of ending up in courtroom battles after a list of England and Wales divorce hot spots was revealed.
The list shows that almost 3,000 couples filed for divorce at Birmingham Civil Justice Centre and Family Courts last year*. This was followed by Weston-super-Mare County Court with almost 2,500 couples and Leicester County Court with over 1,800. These figures were the highest for any part of the country, outside of Greater London.
The statistics have been published as the government takes steps to ensure that couples who make the decision to separate give consideration to using mediation.
Mediation is a quicker, simpler and more effective way of agreeing how they divide their assets or make arrangements for their children, which avoids the often divisive effect of the courtroom.
The courts where the most divorce petitions were applied for in the past year were (divorce petitions listed by court - Oct 2011 - Sept 2012):
Birmingham Civil Justice Centre and Family Courts: 2,799
Weston-super-Mare County Court: 2,437
Leicester County Court: 1,831
Romford County Court: 1,783
Coventry Combined Court Centre: 1,776
Norwich Combined Court Centre: 1,775
Bristol County Court: 1,705
Croydon County Court: 1,672
Nottingham County Court: 1,611
Chelmsford County and Family Proceedings Court: 1,567
- The latest statistics published by the Ministry of Justice are from October 2011 to September 2012.
Family Justice Minister Lord McNally said:
‘All too often I hear stories of families going through expensive and traumatic court hearings but we know that when working out how to split assets and arrange time with the children, mediation is a far simpler and cheaper approach for everyone and leads to better outcomes.
‘That is why we are changing the law so that all couples seeking a court order about child contact or a financial matter must attend a mediation information assessment meeting first, to find out about mediation and consider whether it is suitable for them.’
The average cost of resolving property and financial disputes caused by separation is approximately £500 through mediation for a publicly funded client, compared to £4,000 for issued settled through the courts. The average time for a mediated case is 110 days compared to 435 days for non-mediated cases.
The government has already announced that it expects to spend £25million to support publicly-funded mediation this year. New laws are now being created to ensure that all separating couples must consider mediation to sort out the details of their divorce, before they decide to take their dispute to the Courts.