Should divorce be kept out of the courts?

Warring couples will have to try and resolve their disputes through a mediator from April, but should every couple have to attend?

Divorce is expensive. Fact. It can cost thousands of pounds and drains you of time and emotion. A new protocol, however, could see couples having to come to a resolution before being seen by a judge.

From April, couples going through a divorce will have to show they have been in contact with an accredited mediator and have at least considered attending a session to look at how mediation may resolve their disputes. If either side, or the mediator, decides it is not going to work they will be allowed to proceed to the courts.

In a bid to help partners split-up as amicably as possible, these new measures will assess splitting up property fairly and will hope to decide who will care for any children involvedwithout having to resort to the lengthy and costly procedure of going to court.

‘Nearly every time I ask someone if their stressful divorce battle through the courts was worth it, their answer is no,’ says Jonathan Djanogly, the justice minister. ‘Mediation can be a quicker, cheaper and more amicable alternative, particularly where children are concerned.’

Figures released by The National Audit Office show that in 2009 a total of 132,140 petitions for divorce were filed, with the average time for a mediated case to complete taking 110 days, compared to 435 days for court cases.

The new legislation aims to give couples more control over their split, ensuring they get the fairest deal rather than the lawyers.

A Ministry of Justice spokesman said: ‘For couples who have decided separation is the only course of action, mediation means they can decide the terms of their split between themselves, helped by a trained and impartial mediator, rather than fighting each other through lawyers, with a judge making the key decisions which will shape their lives.’

But should this legislation be obligatory to all couples? Surely there are those that have become too hostile to be forced to resolve their issues through a mediator? Perhaps you enlisted the help of a mediator and are grateful for the role they played? Share your opinion in the box below.

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