Disappointing statistics compiled by the Ministry of Justice have revealed that the number of people accessing publicly funded family mediation services as an alternative to court has fallen by 47% in the last year.

Many mediators are concerned that a lack of public awareness surrounding family mediation and family law services could be a contributing factor to the decrease. Following cuts to Legal Aid last April, there’s now further pressure on the courts to support an influx of divorce and custody based cases, which could be eased by couples exploring positive alternatives to an expensive legal ‘battle’.

The justifications from ministers for cutting legal aid for family law cases included the suggestion that mediation would lessen confrontation between separating couples and save the taxpayer money.

The justice minister, Lord McNally, said: “Mediation can be quicker, cheaper and produces better results than stressful family court battles – and we are committed to helping more separating couples use the excellent services available.

“Millions of pounds of legal aid is still available to cover the cost of mediation and we are changing the law so that in future anyone considering court action will be legally obliged to attend a mediation information meeting and consider whether this would be a better approach.”

Newcastle based David Gray Solicitors LLP have one of the North East’s largest family departments, and offer positive choices for separating couples including family mediation and collaborative family law. Last year, just over 17,000 people successfully used legal aid-funded mediation to settle family issues, a figure which legal practitioners are hoping to see increase despite government cuts.

To find out more about alternatives to court for separating couples, and to find out how the process of mediation works, visit http://www.davidgray.co.uk.