Perhaps one impact of the Jackson reforms and reduced financial aid for access to family lawyers has been an increase in the numbers of those looking to utilise mediation services.
For example, the National Family Mediation reports that there has been a 100 percent increase in calls to its helpline over the past twelve months, with the average number of monthly calls rising from 1,600 to 3,400.
“The cuts to legal aid mean the routes separating couples are taking as they try to reach settlements are becoming more convoluted,” commented Jane Robey, CEO of National Family Mediation.
“Before the legal aid cuts, solicitors would very often provide separating couples with some legal advice, and refer them to family mediation to reach vital settlements on property, finance and parenting.”
However, it is now very likely that many divorcing and separating couples are looking to handle matters themselves rather than instructing family lawyers to carry out the proceedings on their behalf. This, inevitably, is likely to have an impact on the quality of the outcomes people are achieving.
Furthermore, the consequent demand being made on mediation services is also likely to take its toll and has made many concerned parties wonder whether the family law reforms are sustainable in the long term.
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