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Mediation services to be expanded for split families

Minister of Social Development and Sports: Michael Weeks (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

Legislation to expand mediation policies to families split through divorce or separation has been approved by MPs.

The Family Mediation Act expands the powers of the Co-Parenting Mediation Council to help resolve a wider range of family law matters.

Michael Weeks, Minister of Social Development and Sports, said the move would help families and reduce the need for them to appear before the courts.

He said: “I think we all have a story or know of people who have had to go through child support or divorce and leave the court feeling they have been hard done by.”

The legislation will also change the name of the council to the Family Mediation Council and make it responsible for regulating mediators.

Trevor Moniz, Shadow Minister of Legal Affairs, supported the legislation.

He told the House that when a couple separated it often led to financial problems and mediation helped both parties leave the table happy.

But he questioned if there were any statistics to show how expensive the process would be and what the success rate would probably be.

Tinée Furbert, PLP MP, said mediation had proven successful in the UK. She told the House 16,000 couples went through mediation in the UK in 2012-13, with 89 per cent of cases resolved.

Scott Pearman, OBA MP, also supported the Bill.

He said: “The only people who will lose in this are the lawyers, and that’s no bad thing.”