Recent Legal Aid Statistics show decline in Family Mediation

The recent statistics published by the Ministry of Justice show that the number of Mediation Information and Assessment Meetings (MIAMs) in the period of October to December 2015 was down by 16% on a year ago.  Figures also show that the total number of mediation assessments for the last quarter (2,895) are the lowest since the last quarter of 2013 (2,861).

Family Mediation involves an independent and impartial professionally accredited mediator discussing problems with a divorcing or separating couple.  Family mediation can be used to resolve issues to do with children or property and finances.  The process is cheaper and quicker than using the courts and it also allows for a more flexible approach. Changes in legislation in April 2014 mean that most divorcing couples must now attend a MIAM before a matter can go to court.

A MIAM is the initial stage of the mediation process and involves a meeting between one or both parties and a mediator.  The mediator will explain to you what your options might be, what mediation is and how it works, the benefits of mediation and other appropriate forms of resolving disputes, the likely costs of using mediation and if you are eligible for free mediation and Legal Aid.

Following the introduction of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 (LASPO) which was introduced in April 2013 the number of MIAM appointments fell sharply from over 900,000 to around 400,000.  Since then MIAMs have fluctuated and though they were down compared to the previous year, they appear to be stabilising at around half of pre-LASPO levels.

Posted on: 14/04/2016

This article is for general guidance only. It provides useful information in a concise form. Action should not be taken without obtaining specific legal advice.

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