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Countdown to Compulsory Mediation

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The new Family Procedure Rules 2010 – which includes the much publicised compulsory mediation in divorce - comes into force on the 6th April.

ArgumentThe rules will be supplemented by dedicated Practice Directions – the idea being to modernise the code of family procedure replacing unconsolidated rules, guidance and forms for different courts and different types of proceedings.

The four key objectives that the Rules aim to achieve are: the modernisation of language; streamlining of procedures and harmonisation with the Civil Procedure Rules; a single practice, and alignment in all levels of court.

Antony Ball, Head of Family Law in their Doncaster office for Keeble Hawson LLP commented:

“The intention of providing a single set of rules for family proceedings in the High Court, County Court and Magistrates Court should be a positive move forward and will hopefully make the process clearer and more efficient – a win for all parties.”

“Part of the plan is the much discussed compulsory mediation that will expect all applicants in private proceedings relating to children and those seeking a financial remedy upon divorce or separation, to contact a family mediator before issuing proceedings. The Applicant should then attend an Information and Assessment meeting about family mediation.”

“There are case exceptions to this rule – including those with child protection issues or domestic violence.”

Antony concludes:

“If court proceedings are taken, the court will wish to know at the first hearing whether mediation has been considered by the parties. The court will take into account any failure to comply with this protocol and may refer the parties to a mediator before proceedings continue any further.”

“Mediation has already been seen to have a positive impact including a reduction in tension and hostility. As a family mediator I have seen this first hand - emotions so often run high when relationships break down and the support of a trained mediator can help keep discussions going and help couples to focus on what really matters.”

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