Family Mediation Voucher Scheme: Check Your Eligibility
Family disputes can be challenging and emotionally draining, especially when children are involved. The government recognises the importance of finding amicable solutions outside of court, which is why they have introduced the Family Mediation Voucher Scheme.
This scheme aims to make family mediation more accessible and affordable for individuals going through a divorce and/or who are in dispute with regards to their children.
By participating in mediation, you can work towards resolving conflicts in a cooperative and constructive manner.
What is the Family Mediation Voucher Scheme?
The Family Mediation Voucher Scheme is a time-limited government scheme designed to encourage individuals to consider family mediation as a means of resolving disputes.
This scheme was developed in response to Covid-19 to both help respond to an overburdened family court and also to encourage more people to consider mediation as a means of resolving their disputes, where appropriate. The voucher has a financial contribution of up to £500 (inclusive of VAT) towards the cost of mediation, if you’re eligible.
How do I know if I am eligible for the mediation voucher scheme?
Eligibility for the mediation voucher scheme is determined during a Mediation Information Assessment Meeting (MIAM). During this meeting, a trained mediator will assess the issues you seek to resolve, considering if they are suitable for mediation and if you meet the criteria for the voucher scheme. Please note that not all cases qualify for the scheme.
Eligibility is generally for the following case types:
- A private family law dispute or application concerning a child.
- A dispute or application regarding family financial matters, provided you are also involved in a private family law dispute or application relating to a child.
Remember, mediation is a voluntary process and requires the consent of all parties involved. Therefore, both you and the other party must agree to mediate for the process to proceed.
How do I apply for a family mediation voucher?
The application process for a mediation voucher is quite straightforward. During your MIAM, if the mediator determines that your case might be eligible for the scheme, they will discuss it with you. If it's agreed that mediation is the right course, they will discuss the availability of a voucher. This is subject to the suitability of your case for mediation, the specific type of case, and the availability of vouchers. It's the mediator who handles the application process, so you don't have to worry about it.
How will I receive the voucher?
The mediation voucher is not a physical voucher that you receive. Instead, if you decide to go forward with mediation and are eligible for the voucher, your mediator will apply for the voucher funding on your behalf. The funds will be paid directly to the mediation service.
It's important to note that vouchers are limited in quantity. They will be offered to eligible parties until they run out. Your mediator will keep you informed about the availability of vouchers.
Does the family mediation voucher cover all mediation costs?
While the Family Mediation Voucher Scheme provides financial assistance, it may not cover all mediation costs. The voucher is valued at £500 (inclusive of VAT) per case, which can significantly offset the overall expenses. However, if the mediation process extends beyond the scope of the voucher's value, it's likely you'll have to pay for the additional cost if you decide to pursue further mediation.
It is advisable to discuss the costs with your mediator beforehand to understand the financial implications fully. Your mediator should provide you with information regarding their rates and the approximate number of sessions the £500 voucher may cover.
Can the mediation voucher be used to pay for a MIAM?
A Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM) is typically the first step in the mediation process. It is an initial meeting where the mediator provides information about mediation and assesses whether it is suitable for your situation.
Unfortunately, the Family Mediation Voucher Scheme does not cover the costs of a MIAM. However, you may be eligible for legal aid, which can provide funding for both the MIAM and subsequent mediation sessions.
Can I apply for the scheme if I'm eligible for legal aid?
You can apply for the mediation voucher scheme even if you're eligible for legal aid. While the mediation voucher is a one-time financial contribution of up to £500 and does not cover the cost of a MIAM, legal aid can provide funding for both the MIAM and all subsequent mediation sessions.
During your MIAM, your Family Mediation Council (FMC) accredited mediator will discuss these options with you, including their ability to handle legal aid work.
How many family mediation voucher schemes will I receive?
The family mediation voucher scheme allows you to claim just once per family or case, offering a one-time contribution of up to £500 (inclusive of VAT) to assist with your mediation costs.
If you submit a second application and have already utilised a voucher, you will not be eligible for a second voucher under this scheme.
I didn't receive information about the scheme in my MIAM. Can I still attend mediation with a voucher?
The Family Mediation Voucher Scheme was initiated on 26 March 2021. You are eligible for the vouchers only if you attended a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM) on or after this specific date. So, if your MIAM took place after the mentioned date, you're eligible to use a voucher for attending mediation provided that you meet the necessary criteria.
Why mediation might benefit you
Mediation offers several benefits when it comes to resolving family disputes. It provides a neutral and supportive environment where both parties can express their concerns and work towards finding practical solutions.
If you are currently involved in a family dispute or application regarding a child, the Family Mediation Voucher Scheme may provide the financial assistance you need to pursue mediation.