The rollout of the voucher scheme comes amid pressure from the impact of Covid-19 across the family courts. The £1 million scheme encourages families to seek mediation to resolve their disputes where appropriate, easing the burden on the courts for more complex cases.
Launched on the 1st April 2021, the voucher scheme is being administered by the Family Mediation Council on behalf of the MoJ, with the overall aim of reducing court backlogs. The scheme also intends to gather evidence around the uptake and impact of mediation and how further financial support could provide a more streamlined process for families.
How does the scheme work?
The scheme offers a financial contribution of up to £500 per family towards the overall cost of their mediation. The payment is made directly to the mediation provider and is administered on behalf of the MoJ by the Family Mediation Council. The voucher will cover the cost of the actual mediation, but it cannot be used as a contribution towards the Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM) or any corresponding paperwork. The £500 applies to each case and not per individual. A family can only claim one voucher during the eligibility period of the scheme.
Who is eligible for the voucher?
Eligibility for the scheme is not based on the income of any individual participating. Vouchers will be restricted to cases where there is a private law dispute or cases involving child arrangements. Those who are eligible for legal aid are not excluded from the voucher scheme. Further information on using legal aid in conjunction with the voucher is available in the scheme document.
How do I receive the voucher?
At the Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM), the mediator will provide information on the case eligibility, if either party is eligible for legal aid and the value of the voucher. Mediators must request a voucher application and receive a case reference number before confirming to clients that a voucher is available to use. This is to ensure that vouchers are only allocated where funds are available. The voucher will be paid out directly to the mediator as a contribution towards the cost of the services provided and is administered by the Family Mediation Council on behalf of the MoJ.