English couples seeking a divorce must first take part in divorce mediation

The previous post took a closer look at the divorce rate in Canada. Today’s post will continue with this international perspective by examining a recent development in the area of divorce mediation “across the pond,” meaning in England.

Specifically, legal authorities in England are now mandating that all couples seeking to secure a divorce must first undergo mandatory divorce mediation.

The primary rationale behind this new requirement is to preserve judicial resources (i.e., stop the courts from being flooded with divorce cases) and cut down on step legal fees for litigants.

To illustrate the gravity of the problem, consider that in 2009, English courts had to deal with 114,000 divorces and roughly 137,000 divorce-related cases (child support/custody, property division, etc.).

The final decision to mandate divorce mediation was reached via mutual agreement between the Ministry of Justice and English judges.

This agreement, which was not memorialized through the passing of new legislation, goes into effect next month. (It is worth noting that cases involving child protection or domestic violence issues are exempt from the mediation requirement.)

In mediation, the former spouses (both of whom may be represented by an attorney) meet in a neutral location to resolve important divorce issues, such as spousal maintenance, child custody, child support and property division. The mediation session is run by a neutral third party mediator who works to facilitate both a constructive dialogue and mutual cooperation.

The new mandatory divorce mediation requirement in England should not constitute a seismic shift in the legal landscape, especially considering that those parties who apply for government assistance to cover the legal expenses of divorce are currently required to participate in a divorce mediation session.

“I am concerned those funding their own court actions are missing out on the benefits it can bring,” said Justice Minister Jonathan Djanogly.

While free divorce mediation sessions are available in England, they are not widely available. Consequently, couples may be forced to pay as much as 140 pounds ($230 USD) for a session.

Stay tuned for more from our Ft. Worth family law blog …

To learn more about divorce mediation or dissolution of marriage, contact an experienced and skilled legal professional.

This post is for informational purposes only and is not to be construed as legal advice.

Related Resources:

UK divorcing couples must attempt mediation before going to court (The Huffington Post)