What is the Family Mediation Voucher Scheme?
In March 2021, the Ministry of Justice launched the Family Mediation Voucher Scheme, which supports people attempting to resolve disputes around child arrangements outside of court. The voucher scheme can provide up to £500.00 per case towards family mediation.
The voucher scheme is only available for a limited time. If you would like to know whether you are eligible, you will need to book a MIAM.
Only family mediators who the Family Mediation Council accredits can provide the voucher scheme to clients.
It is now mandatory that you attend a Mediation Information Assessment Meeting (MIAM) before making an application to the court. The courts would like to see that you have considered mediation before you have made an application. The courts are currently overwhelmed with child arrangement cases. Hence the creation of the family mediation voucher scheme.
As a result of the voucher scheme, a reduction in child arrangement court applications is expected as more people attempt to resolve their dispute through free family mediation, which is a far more amicable process for parties.
With Access Mediation Services, the family mediation voucher scheme provides one 2 hour mediation session free of charge.
What does the Family Mediation Voucher Scheme cover?
The voucher scheme covers one 2 hour free mediation session on child arrangements with our service.
The voucher scheme does not pay or go towards your MIAMs or Parenting Plan. These will need to be funded privately by the parties in the case.
Who is eligible for the family mediation voucher scheme?
As long as your family mediation case involves child arrangements, your MIAMs must have taken place on or after the 26th March 2021, and your case is deemed suitable for mediation, you should be eligible for the voucher scheme. The scheme is not means-tested, i.e. it is not based on your income.
Where mediation involves finances and child arrangements, you would potentially be eligible for £500.00 towards the child arrangements aspect, but not the finances.
Where mediation involves finances only, unfortunately, this is not covered by the family mediation voucher scheme. If you are in dispute over child maintenance payments this would still be a part of a child arrangements family mediation case.
Can I apply for the voucher scheme if I am eligible for legal aid?
Yes, you can apply for the voucher scheme if you are eligible for legal aid.
Can I apply for the voucher scheme if my ex-partner is eligible for legal aid?
Yes, you can apply for the voucher scheme if your ex-partner is eligible for legal aid.
How can I apply for a family mediation voucher?
In your mediation case, both you and the other party would first have needed to attend a Mediation Information Assessment Meeting (MIAM). As long as you both agree to attend mediation, we would gain your consent to apply for the mediation voucher on your behalf. We then submit your application to the Family Mediation Council, which has the authority to allocate vouchers. Once they have assigned the voucher to your case, we would then arrange a mediation session and claim the cost directly from the Family Mediation Council.
Will the voucher cover all the costs for mediation?
The voucher provides £500.00 of free family mediation. If you need more than one 2 hour mediation session, you and the other party must fund this.
You cannot apply for more than one family mediation voucher, as it is one voucher per case.
Your family mediator should be able to estimate how many mediation sessions it will likely take, based on the information provided in your MIAMs.
I wasn’t informed about the voucher scheme at my MIAM. Will I be able to apply for a voucher?
As long as your MIAM took place on or after the 26th March 2021, you can still apply for a voucher. An application for a voucher can only happen once both parties have attended a MIAM.
What information will I need to provide for the voucher scheme?
The family mediation service will provide you with an optional questionnaire once you have completed mediation. The Family Mediation Council/Ministry of Justice use the information provided to monitor the voucher scheme.
The family mediator will also gather some details about your family mediation case. The Family Mediation Council/Ministry of Justice will use the anonymised data to provide information about mediation and the voucher scheme.
The family mediation service will ask you to sign a consent form which states the following:
- You have asked the mediator to apply for the voucher.
- You have not already applied for another voucher as part of the same scheme.
- You have given consent to your mediator providing your necessary information to the Family Mediation Council. This includes your name, the bill for mediation services you receive from the mediator and some basic information about your case.
What is family mediation?
Family mediation is when a third party (family mediator) who is qualified and accredited facilitates discussions between two parties in a dispute about child arrangements and or finances and assets.
How does family mediation work?
The first step of family mediation is for you to attend a MIAM. During the MIAM, you will explain your situation to the mediator and your reasons for initiating mediation; they will also assess whether your case is suitable to proceed and provide information about the process.
Once the mediator has confirmed the suitability, they will then invite party 2. Party 2 would then attend a MIAM.
When the mediator and parties are happy for mediation to proceed, the family mediator will arrange your session.
Mediation sessions then take place until you have reached an agreement. If you haven’t reached an agreement, we can issue a C100 MIAM Certificate or a Form A MIAM Certificate. A signed MIAM Certificate by an accredited mediator is required when making an application to the court unless there are extenuating circumstances.
When parties reach an agreement, we will provide a final document with the agreement of all parties. This document provides all of the agreements made.
What are the benefits of family mediation?
There are lots of benefits to family mediation. Below are just a few reasons why people come to family mediation:
- It enables parties to repair communication issues so they can be amicable going forward.
- It enables parties to move on with their lives.
- Provides parties with the control to choose their agreements rather than the court imposing what they feel is best.
- It is less costly, time-consuming and less stressful and inflammatory than attending court.
- Family mediation looks at what is best for the children, and this is their primary focus throughout the whole process.
If you would like to speak to a mediator before booking your MIAM, please click here for a free consultation.