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Family Courts

Volume 464: debated on Tuesday 16 October 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice (1) whether there are plans to require parties in children's cases to attend a meeting with a mediator; (157507)

(2) whether there are plans to change family proceedings rules to require parties in children's cases to meet a mediator before proceeding;

(3) if he will require the parties in cases concerning residence of children and contact to attend a mediation assessment before commencing court proceedings.

Parties applying for public funding under the Community Legal Service are already required to attend a meeting with a mediator to consider mediation. This requirement may be waived if there are special circumstances such as domestic violence or the case is very urgent.

The Government continue to encourage the greater use of family mediation but do not believe that it should be made compulsory or that all parties in disputes over child residence and contact should be required to attend a meeting with a mediator.

The Government will make changes to court rules and application forms to facilitate referrals to family mediation where the court considers this would be beneficial.

The Children and Adoption Act 2006 when fully implemented will enable the court to direct parties to attend a meeting to learn about mediation in cases where it considers this is appropriate.