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Government to provide additional mediation funding

The Government has announced that it intends to provide additional funding of £10 million to help couples going through separation and divorce.

The announcement comes at the time of year when the number of people considering separation and divorce is at its peak. Searches for 'divorce' on www.justice.gov.uk increased from 744 in December 2011 to 1,364 in January 2012. There were 692 searches on DirectGov (now part of Gov.uk) for 'divorce process' in the first week of January 2012, compared to 188 in the first week of December.

The additional £10 million is expected to meet increased use of mediation from April 2013 and will provide additional public funding for eligible couples to use mediation. The Government currently spends £15 million a year on family mediation.

Couples use mediation to work out the arrangements around their separation with the guidance of a qualified mediator, enabling them to reach agreements they are prepared to keep to, rather than have decisions imposed by a judge after solicitors have argued the case in court. Legal advice from a solicitor can be part of the mediation process so that each person knows what their rights are.

The new funding follows changes to the court processes last year which mean couples seeking a court order about child contact or a financial matter attend a mediation assessment session first, to find out about mediation and consider whether it is suitable for them.

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