Jonathan Djanogly on divorce and mediation

Jonathan Djanogly  Mr Djanogly wants to make divorce a less painful process

Divorce has always been a messy business but the Justice Minister and MP for Huntingdon Jonathan Djanogly has been trying to make it a little less painful.

In April this year he introduced a new law which requires all couples who are splitting up to consider mediation rather than the courts.

"It's something I have personally been pushing hard as a minister for the last year," he tells us, adding that the new policy seems to be working.

"There's been a 20% uptake in mediation and we know that of those who go through publicly funded mediation, 70% will have a successful outcome."

"It's a cheaper process - one that takes a fifth of the time of going to court and it's much less contentious.

"When children are involved that must be better for all parties concerned."

Mediation route

This week the minister went to Ipswich to meet with mediators and some of those who have successfully used the new service.

Start Quote

It's a cheaper process - one that takes a fifth of the time of going to court and it's much less contentious”

End Quote Jonathan Djanogly MP Justice Minister

Rather than leave it to their lawyers to decide things like access to children and division of property, they meet face-to-face with a mediator and work things out.

Normally it will take three or four meetings and a bill of £500 - far quicker and cheaper than if it went to court.

"90% of people sort out their own problems, but 10% of people go to court," says Mr Djanogly.

"We think less of them should be going to court and more of them taking their own lives into their own hands, and mediation is a way of facilitating that."

Mr Djanogly accepts that mediation isn't the answer for every divorcing couple which is why the law insists that couples are only assessed for mediation.

In some cases, such as those involving domestic violence, the courts are still the best way forward.

The Citizens Advice Bureau also warns that in some cases there's no substitute for proper legal advice.

Controversial headlines

Mr Djanogly's visit to Ipswich comes at the end of a difficult month for the Cambridgeshire MP.

He's once again been the subject of controversial headlines and had to answer allegations about perceived conflicts of interest between his job and his family's business interests.

It is worth recording that he was investigated by the Cabinet Secretary and cleared of any wrongdoing.

He will only say that the allegations were an attempt by the Labour Party to undermine the government's attempts to end the compensation culture.

"When you're a minister you have to realise that people are going to attack you.

"The important thing is that you stick to your guns and deliver on your manifesto commitments."

Deborah McGurran Article written by Deborah McGurran Deborah McGurran Political editor, East of England

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  • rate this

    Comment number 4.

    Marriage - is for the benefit of Women ONLY...
    Until there is EQUALITY in Marriage & Divorce - then Marriage will continue to remain a 'Fool's Errand' for Men and lead to the death of the institution of Marriage...

  • rate this

    Comment number 3.

    Recently been thru mediation process & can't be so +tive. Mediator wld only see people during business hrs. Cost us both >£500 for 3 sessions & final doc that solicitor can't use. Person cldn't add up & argued over things we had agreed, which we were correct about. It wld have been cheaper & easier for us to use solicitor we had already agreed split & just needed someone to formally write it up.

  • rate this

    Comment number 2.

    We must encourage separating and divorcing couples to keep control of the outcome of the arrangements for themselves and their children. Mediation has a high success rate and the collaborative law approach has a success rate of over 97%. Instead of a Judge deciding then divorcing couples should be in control of what is important. Constructive divorce with dignity is possible.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1.

    I think it's wonderful that the Justice Ministry is seeing such success with this program. There is a similar, mandatory divorce mediation being tried in the federal courts in western Pennsylvania, USA and they are having similarly positive results. Very encouraging!
    Zach Ulrich
    Contributing Editor, ADR Times



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