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Mediators call for greater support for divorcing couples

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A survey by the Family Mediators Association (FMA) has revealed that separating and divorcing couple are struggling to access the information they need to help them make informed decisions about their family and financial issues during what is already a difficult time.

According to the poll, 38 per cent of people were unaware that there are more ways to resolve issues than going to court or using a solicitor, while their satisfaction with the resolution of their issues was directly related to their access to information about their options.

Taken nationally, almost half of respondents said they felt positive about the outcome of their separation but this figure was higher in areas where they had good access to information but lower in areas where they were unaware that there were other options available to them.

In fact, taking the national average, 15 per cent of people were unaware that there were methods of resolution other than courts or lawyers, but this figure rose to an astonishing 38 per cent amongst younger respondents.

The survey also found that almost a quarter of separating or divorcing couples picked a method for resolving their issues because it was the cheapest option available to them, but that few couples are aware how the costs of different resolution methods actually compare.

In addition, while a separate survey by the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) shows that mediation tends to be far less expensive than many of its alternatives, only 2 per cent of respondents reported that they used a family mediation service, compared to a total of 35 per cent negotiating through court or solicitors, showing that couples are not always aware there is a cheaper alternative.

Therefore, family mediators are calling for increased availability of practical information and support for separating couples trying to decide how to divide their assets or organise time with their children.