In nearly every situation where you have a dispute with your ex-partner, you will need to try mediation before the courts will consider hearing your matter. It doesn’t matter whether it is a child-related or a financial matter, you will have to have your court application form signed-off by an accredited family mediator. We are often asked why?
The simple answer is that the court believes that matters related to children, in particular, is best sorted out by the parents and besides, their hope is that by attempting mediation, you and your ex, actually reach decisions and agreements and therefore, the time and cost of the court are no longer needed. In addition to this, the courts are currently overrun with cases and therefore court time is better served by hearing more serious cases. It’s a strongly held belief that parents should sort their own children’s best interests and not the court.
What are the exemptions for attempting mediation before the court?
The exceptions, for not having to attempt mediation before asking the court to rule, is where the situation is deemed urgent. This includes instances where either domestic violence is present, or a child or children are at risk. At this time, the courts will want to hear the matter. Courts have considerable power and they are ready and willing to exercise it, particularly where a child’s safety is concerned.
Under these circumstances, it is the role of CAFASS, it stands for Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service. As the name suggests, it is a public body that works within the court jurisdiction. They put children’s needs, wishes, and feelings first, making sure that children’s voices are heard at the heart of the family court setting, and that decisions are made in their best interests. Operating within the law set by Parliament (Criminal Justice and Court Services Act 2000) and under the rules and directions of the family courts, they are independent of the courts, social services, education, and health authorities and all similar agencies.
How CAFASS can help
Their duty is to safeguard and promote the welfare of children going through the family justice system. Their experienced Family Court Advisers may be asked by the court to work with families and then advise the court on what they consider to be the best interests of the children involved in three main areas:
- divorce and separation, sometimes called ‘private law’, where parents or carers can’t agree on arrangements for their children.
- care proceedings, sometimes called ‘public law’, where social services have serious concerns about the safety or welfare of a child.
- adoption, which can be either public or private law.
If you would like to know about CAFCASS, you can visit their website https://www.cafcass.gov.uk
Contact Us for Family Mediation Services
For more information about the Family Mediation & Counselling Service and our online family mediation appointments, please get in touch with us on 0330 113 0005 or you can send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.