MEDIATION VOUCHER SCHEME
Clients attending mediation will be delighted to know that the government has announced that it is investing £1m in family mediation. The government are keen to support families resolve issues without recourse to the courts which are both expensive and hostile.
The government have set aside a voucher fund to be allocated to participants in mediation who have attended a MIAM (Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting) from 31 March 2021 onwards.
The voucher will provide a contribution of up to £500 per family to be used towards the cost of mediation if the mediation relates to child arrangements.
Whilst the voucher does not cover the cost of a MIAM or any paperwork drafted by the mediator the financial contribution can be used towards the cost of attending mediation meetings. Please note that the voucher is not based upon income but is limited to cases where there is a private law dispute or application concerning a child.
The voucher is available per case, not per individual and a family can claim only one voucher during the life cycle of this scheme. The mediator applies for the voucher once both participants have agreed that mediation is a suitable process and both agree to an application for a voucher being made.
For more information on mediation, please contact a member of the team.
THE PERILS OF LIVING TOGETHER
With many couples having accelerating their plans to cohabit rather than facing lockdown isolation, it is important to understand the legal implications of cohabitation.
The myth of the ‘common law spouse’ remains rife. Cohabiting couples do not share the same legal rights and protections as married couples. Whereas married couples have financial protection and may rely on statute to support them in their claims for sharing of income, capital, property and pensions in the event of relationship breakdown, separation and divorce, there is no similar protection for unmarried couples. This is regardless of the length of time couples have been together, or the rights and opportunities they may have given up in order to cohabit. In short, there is no right to share income, even if you have given up your employment to support your partner in his wealth creation, or to care for your family. You have no automatic right to share your partner’s pension provision, even if you have sacrificed your own pension provision to support your partner. You have no automatic entitlement in relation to property. You may have moved into your partner’s home but in the event of relationship breakdown, you may not be able to remain there.
So what is the Solution?
We would advise all cohabiting couples to enter into a detailed Cohabitation Agreement or Living Together Agreement in advance of moving in together. A properly drawn Cohabitation Agreement / Living Together Agreement, can help clarify and regulate your rights and responsibilities towards each other, and prevent any nasty surprises later. A binding contract entered into freely between two individuals, can provide you with a degree of protection, even if currently statute falls short of doing so.
We are pleased to welcome Jane Cowley as a Partner in our Nottingham office. Jane is an experienced family lawyer and regularly advises clients on complex financial issues. she is often called on to advise BBC radio and television on family law matters and is even a legal adviser for ITV’s Emmerdale.
If you have any questions on the above, do not hesitate to get in contact with our Family Team who will be able to assist you further.