Ken Clarke has urged separating couples to consider mediation when they separate or divorce, instead of turning to the courts.
He met family mediators in Milton Keynes who work with couples and families to reach agreements when they separate or divorce - especially where children are involved.
Mr Clarke said:
‘In the vast majority of cases mediation is a much more sensible way for couples to conduct their separation - it is quicker, cheaper, less confrontational and it encourages people to resolve their issues rather than turning to judges and lawyers.’
Rules introduced last year mean that all separating couples must complete an assessment to determine if mediation is a better option for them. The Government has already increased spending on mediation from £10m to £25m each year, to allow separating couples to mediate.
Mary Banham-Hall, Mediator at Focus Mediation in Milton Keynes, said:
‘Mediation brings couples together in a neutral and non-hostile environment to improve communication and focus on any children’s needs. The impartial mediator helps the couple to resolve their differences and settle child residence and contact, along with every aspect of their financial settlement in a thoughtful and co-operative way.
‘It can be fast and cost effective and can achieve a huge saving in legal costs - plus people can start to solve their problems rather than fighting over them. It is the best way to end relationships, if they have to end’.