Since April 2014 it has been compulsory for divorcing couples to attend a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM) before an application can be made for a court order in divorce proceedings.
However, a response from the Ministry of Justice to a Freedom of Information Request highlighted that only five per cent of applications for private law proceeding to a family court actually followed the new compulsory route. This means that fewer than 5,000 MIAMs have taken place against a background of 112,000 private law applications.
The Freedom of Information Request was made by National Family Mediation. The organisation's Chief Executive, Jane Robey commented "By requiring separating couples to attend a mediation awareness meeting, the government's aim was to introduce a cheaper and less confrontational alternative to court. But with fewer than one in 20 of couples even attending the initial meeting, let alone following that route through to its conclusion, the law has failed."
"We genuinely welcomed the law change requiring couples to explore mediation as an alternative to combative court proceedings. We knew it could not transform the culture of divorce on its own, but these figures suggest even this small government step has flopped."
Mediation is intended to keep decisions about property, finance and children with the family rather than delegating decisions to a judge.