This is the name given to the process intended to enable couples themselves to decide, subject to their right to independent legal advice, to resolve or minimise the issues in dispute between them.
In December 1993 the government issued a consultative Green Paper on divorce reform and mediation. This was followed in 1995 by a White Paper. These documents were precursors of the present Family Law Bill whose provisions were discussed in the Introduction. The consultation papers reviewed the present system without referring to the obligation solicitors have to try and reach a settlement of disputed matters. The papers considered recommendations made by the Law Commission in its discussion paper published in 1988, Facing the Future, and its final report, The Grounds for Divorce (1990).
The Family Law Bill envisages divorce on the basis of a divorce order or a separation order after a period of one year for reflection and consideration. The year is to begin when a statement of breakdown has been filed with the court and that step cannot take place until the person concerned has attended a public information session. The obligation to attend a public information session applies before any party makes an application to the court relating to a child of the family or property or financial matters. The bill provides that power for the court after it has received the statement of marital breakdown to direct the parties to attend a meeting explaining mediation and provide them with an opportunity to make use of mediation.
In Part 2 of the Family Law Bill provision is made for mediation in family matters but the Legal Aid Board’s provision of mediation for persons who may be financially eligible makes it plain that the circumstances in which mediation is to be provided will be set out