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…
As an experienced family law solicitor I know that Christmas is not a happy time that everyone. Indeed it can be very lonely and depressing. Some parents are for various reasons unable to spend time with their children on the main days of the Christmas holiday or even at all.
In the run-up to Christmas we deal with a surge in cases where separated parents are in dispute over the arrangements through which children will spend time with each parent over the Christmas holiday. Here are some hopefully helpful tips.
Rights of Women is a women’s voluntary organisation committed to informing, educating and empowering women concerning their legal rights.
The organisation is based in London and was founded in 1975. They seek to influence policy by undertaking original research, preparing responses to policy documents from Government and other sources. Rights of Women organise conferences on women’s rights, and hold public meetings. They want women’s voices heard at every stage of public policy formulation.
In addition Rights of Women offer free confidential legal advice to women on through their own advice line. Their website contains a lot of useful information and a link can be found here; Link to Rights of Women Website
Rights of Women were recently successful in being granted permission to challenge the evidence requirements often referred to as the ‘domestic violence gateway’ to legal aid in many private family law cases.
The Law Society has supported their challenge (brought by the Public Law Project on their behalf) over the lawfulness of Government changes to legal aid which are preventing victims of domestic abuse from getting legal aid for family cases, even when it is clear there has been violence, or there is an ongoing risk of violence. Rights of Women argue that this is not what parliament intended.
A full hearing is expected before the end of the year
What follows is a short piece which formed the basis of our Advert in East Devon’s Midweek Herald Newspaper in January 2014.
We regularly advertise in the Midweek Herald because it is a free newspaper that is delivered to homes in Honiton, Seaton, Axminster, Colyton, Beer and Ottery St Mary. It can also be found in Sidmouth. Our main office is in Honiton, although we are also able to see clients by appointment at our branch offices in Exeter and Taunton, so the Midweek Herald is a natural place to advertise. As an East Devon resident, Ian has been reading the Midweek Herald for quite a number of years.
Ian Walker has been a specialist Family Law Solicitor since 1992 and a Family Mediator since 1996. Ian has worked for Solicitors Practices recognised as amongst the best in the South West. Ian has a long commitment to good Practice and has served as a Member of the Family Law Committee of the Law Society, which promotes good practice and Law Reform. (more…)
Traditionally the summer is a quiet time for family law lawyers. The autumn sees families working out how best to sort out difficulties. Difficult decisions need to be made. This piece is intended to help.
Although Ian Walker Family Law and Mediation Solicitors only properly got going in March 2013, I have lived and worked in Devon for 14 years. I have been a specialist Family Law Solicitor for 21 years and a Family Mediator for 17 years. Among other things, I was the Chair of the Devon branch of Resolution for a successful 3 year term in office before standing down last year. I was elected to this role by Family Solicitors across Devon. If you have not heard of Resolution, you should visit their website at http://www.resolution.org.uk/about_us/ . As an organisation Resolution has in its 30 years transformed what is good practice and heavily promoted dispute resolution through Mediation and Collaborative Family Law.
Value for Money
In Family disputes this is a combination of;
Family Law problems are problems which are resolved in the shadow of the Law. If there is no agreement a Judge will make decisions. Even if there is agreement, a Court Order may be needed to put it into effect (For example a Divorce or a “clean break” or pension order), and trying to avoid Solicitors completely is almost always a false economy. However choosing a Solicitor is not always easy. There are some longer pieces on my website on this subject, but generally the main things to consider are;
Value for money for also depends on the client. Generally, if you want to spend less, you need to understand what is a reasonable outcome or range of outcomes, and then get to the negotiation table as soon as possible. If negotiation fails, you need to get to a Court Hearing (with a realistic and well prepared case) as soon as possible. Too often I have seen people wasting money by avoiding getting on with things and getting stuck with long and pointless letters going back and forth in an expensive point scoring exercise.
A good Solicitor will steer their client through the best format to achieve a good and realistic outcome, whether that is Family Mediation, Collaborative Family Law, Solicitor led negotiation or Court Application. The skill lies in finding the right and best process for the client and their family and helping them to make the most of it.
It is also true to say that there are good and experienced Solicitors in the towns of East Devon, and there should be no need to travel into Exeter for Family Law or Mediation. There tends to be a higher turnover of staff in larger practices as well as a greater use of unqualified caseworkers. Local is often more personal and the Solicitors will know each other, which can also smooth the case along.
I am a family Mediator as well as a Solicitor. We are the only Mediation service based in East Devon which has a contract with the Legal Aid Agency. It is correct to say that mediation (for the right people), is often the cheapest and best (but by no means always) way of resolving family disputes. It is important that it is supported by Legal Advice. When I am mediating, I cannot advise, but I can assist clients to get advice about the things they need to, when they need to, so that they can make informed decisions together. As a mediator, I meet with both parties separately before setting mediation up. I carry out a risk assessment and check that mediation is suitable.
Many think that Legal Aid has been completely abolished, but this is not true. Legal Aid is still available for Legal Advice to assist people to protect themselves and their children. It is available if Social Services become involved with a family. If there is a documented safety issue it is also still available for divorce and finance and children disputes.
The rules are very complicated! There is a useful questionnaire at https://www.gov.uk/check-legal-aid, but I am always happy to take a phone call, and I will be able to give you an idea fairly quickly.
Where there is not a documented safety issue, then families’ can get Legal Aid for family mediation. Once the mediation has started, there is also a type of legal aid that will enable those eligible to get legal advice in support of the mediation and to sort out Legal formalities after. (But it will not cover the divorce itself).
Where safety is not an issue, mediation is often a good idea anyway. I am able to mediate from here in Honiton, Exeter, Taunton and Cullompton.
Where problems are left unresolved, they can often get worse and or more difficult to resolve. Disputes between parents can also have a very negative impact upon children. It is important for them that their parents find a way forward. I offer an initial free 30 minute meeting to discuss options with potential clients. Within that time I can assess eligibility for Legal Aid. After the 30 minutes the client can go home for a think, or we can proceed with initial Legal Advice or try to set up mediation.
Don’ts first; here are 10 things not to do;