How successful is family mediation?
It is impossible to know for Non-Legally Aided Mediation. There are no central and independently audited statistics.
There are statistics for Legally Aided Mediation though.
The outcomes of legally aided mediations are audited by the Legal Aid Agency. If success is over claimed, the Legal Aid Agency will disallow the success fee that is otherwise paid. If there was a pattern for this happening – then there would be sanctions under the terms of the Legal Aid Contract.
We can therefore say that the Legal Aid Agency statistics are reasonably reliable.
The latest round of statistics have recently been published
Here is a table:
Family mediation can be used to resolve issues to do with children or property and finance following divorce or separation, and the ‘all issues’ category describes mediations which deal with both areas.
The children category consistently accounts for the majority of starts, comprising 64% of all mediation starts in the last year (this information is taken from the more detailed data published alongside this bulletin).
Mediations can either break down or result in an agreement.
Like other areas of mediation, agreements fell following LASPO. They have since stabilised at just over half of pre-LASPO levels (see figure 16).
Mediations in the ‘all issues’ category can reach full agreement, where agreement is reached on all issues, or partial agreement, wherein an agreement has been reached on either children or property and finance, but not both. As such, successful agreements include both partial agreements and full agreements.
Over the last year 62% of all mediation outcomes involved successful agreements. The rate of success varied between different categories of mediation, with the highest proportion of agreements (63%) in the children category (this information is taken from the more detailed data published alongside this bulletin).
There is a lot less Legally Aided Mediation taking place than before the legal aid reforms which were supposed to promote mediation: 15000 ish down to around 8000 ish per year (the 2016-2017 were down so far from 2015-2016)
A greater proportion of mediation is about children issues and this is more successful than financial mediation
Success within these figures also includes partially successful. This is most likely to be where children issues have been resolved and financial issues have not.
If around 40% of mediation is unsuccessful – the failure rate for financial mediation will be higher – this is because success includes partial success. What this is most likely to mean is a failure to resolve financial issues but that there has been success in resolving child arrangements. As in my experience many couples tend to focus on one area of dispute, resolving children issues when finances are in dispute tends to be more straightforward.
40% failure rate means that nothing has been resolved at all.
The proportion of successful mediation is no better now than before the legal aid changes – why is this? 64% successful in 2006/7, 68% success in 2007/8, 66% success in 2012/13. Arguably the previous legal aid rules pulled even more contact cases into mediation.
There are more detailed statistics published
These charts are for the most recent full calendar year.
The overall success rate in finance only mediation is only 54%
When both finances and children issues are considered in mediation financial issues are resolved in only 51% of cases. Children issues are resolved in 60% of those cases.
Is a 54% -ish success rate for financial mediation acceptable? You can see why people are wary – particularly when money is tight – but Court is rarely the answer. We think that our combination of mediation with arbitration provides the best option.
If you want to see the legal aid data look here https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/legal-aid-statistics-october-to-december-2016
No – remember overall 62% of cases were resolved. Resolution would have saved clients a lot of cost and should also have preserved or improved family relationships.
But – prospective clients need to be realistic – mediation is no magic wand.
For mediation to work, clients need to fully commit to the process and deliver on commitments made during the process. They must be prepared to have some give and take.
Perhaps also clients need to be more selective in their choice of mediator?
What are the mediators skills and background. Personally I always refer my clients to specific experienced mediators who are either practicing solicitors or who are non-practicing solicitors. But – I think my model of linking my mediation practice to a panel of arbitrators who are known to me is the way to go (although unfortunately legal aid is not available for arbitration – although if the matters still unresolved at the end of a mediation are reasonably narrow then a paper based arbitration can be inexpensive and certainly cheaper than the alternative)
I have been a Family Mediator since 1996 and am a supervisor of other mediators. I am accredited by the Family Mediation Council and the Law Society. I am also a Civil/Commercial Mediator and member of the Devon and Somerset Mediation Panel. I am a Family Law Arbitrator (Children Scheme) via IFLA and I am a practicing Solicitor with Accreditations via the Law Society and Resolution.
In other words I am quadruple qualified.
This means I am aware of the pros and cons of all relevant practice models and am well placed to comment.
I have been undertaking legally aided mediation for nearly 20 years. I have my own Solicitors practice based in Honiton but covering Taunton and Exeter. Our Mediation with Arbitration scheme is portable to anywhere within a reasonable travel distance…
But, all this means that I understand how the different styles of practice work – and don’t work – and perhaps also how they can best work together…
To get the most out of mediation, it is worthwhile prepare. Here are some questions to ask yourself in advance;