Family Law Mediation Services

Oral Answers to Questions — Justice – in the House of Commons at 11:30 am on 3rd February 2015.

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Photo of Debbie Abrahams Debbie Abrahams Labour, Oldham East and Saddleworth 11:30 am, 3rd February 2015

What recent assessment he has made of the effectiveness of mediation services provided for family law cases.

Photo of Simon Hughes Simon Hughes The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice

Mediation between separating couples helps reduce the stress on children and families and the pressure on the courts system, and saves money for taxpayers. Last year nearly two-thirds of couples attending a single mediation session involving children reached full agreement at that session, and seven out of every 10 couples choosing mediation ultimately reached an agreement. That is why the coalition Government have funded a free mediation information meeting and a free first session provided that one party is legally aided.

Photo of Debbie Abrahams Debbie Abrahams Labour, Oldham East and Saddleworth

My constituent David Burke has described the mediation process for family law cases as shambolic, and his experience is not unique. This is working against enabling parental responsibility, as the legislation originally intended. What are the Government doing to address these failings?

Photo of Simon Hughes Simon Hughes The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice

I have to tell the hon. Lady that the message here is not one of failure but one of increasing success. The number of people attending mediation assessment meetings has gone up in the last three quarters, and there is no report of these being shambolic. I will willingly meet the hon. Lady and her constituent on the subject, but I am clear that her party is committing no extra money for legal aid, so it will not be any different or greatly reformed under Labour.