Only two per cent of the Mediation Information and Assessment Meetings (MIAMs) attended over the last year were as a result of a referral from family courts.
According to the latest figures from the Ministry of Justice (MoJ), there were 30,245 MIAMs in 2013/14. Only 713 of those came from the family courts.
During the same period, advisory charity the Citizens Advice Bureau only accounted for 791 referrals and relationship counselling services like Relate were responsible for only 35.
The largest number of referrals came from family lawyers. Despite the lack of financial incentive for them to do so, they accounted for 15,158, of MIAM referrals. That number represents over half of the total for the year.
These figures are the latest indication of problems with the government’s family law reforms.
The Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 (LASPO) made MIAMs compulsory for anyone seeking a divorce. The idea was to direct more people to mediation in order to lessen the burden on the family court system.
In addition to making MIAMs mandatory, LASPO also cut legal aid for almost all family law cases. As family lawyers make up the largest percentage of MIAM referrals, the cuts resulted in a 38 per cent drop in mediation.
In addition, new research shows that the legal aid cuts are now supported by just one in four people.