Compulsory Referral to Mediation – is this a good thing?
Under the Children and Families Act 2014 a referral to mediation in family disputes is compulsory in all bar the most exceptional of cases. The principle behind mediation is of course sound- a more amicable and cheaper way of resolving disputes which should be promoted in every case. However, should it be compulsory in every case as the new law states before an application can be filed at Court?
Consider this scenario:
Father persistently denied by Mother the opportunity to see his children. Mother cancels the landline and removes the eldest child’s mobile phone to stop any form of communication with Father. No reason or explanation is given by Mother other than she wants nothing to do with Father either for herself or for the children. It is clear Father needs to apply for a defined Court Order setting out the time the children should spend with him. As required by the new law a referral to mediation is made. Father attends a MIAM (Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting). Time ticks by as Mother takes nearly 2 weeks to reply to the mediator as to whether she wishes to engage in the process, all the while the children are still not able to see or speak to their Father. Mother then elects not to participate. Should a referral to mediation have been compulsory in this case or was it used by Mother as a means of delaying the process further and making things more difficult for Father?
It is cases like this that raise the question of whether a compulsory referral to mediation is right in all cases. Time will tell whether any changes are made to this.
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By Claire Clark on 20 Nov 2014, 10:00 AM