The latest data from the Legal Aid Board in relation to the Family Mediation Service shows a success rate was in the order of 82%, a Fine Gael TD has said.
The Mediation Act 2017 was enacted on 2 October and will be brought into operation in the coming weeks.
The Act’s definition of mediation states that mediation means a confidential, facilitative and voluntary process in which parties in a dispute, with the assistance of a mediator, attempt to reach a mutually acceptable agreement to resolve the issue.
Dublin Rathdown TD, Josepha Madigan said: “Family mediation is a free, confidential service in which a professional mediator assists those involved in family law cases, in particular separating or divorcing couples, to negotiate the terms of their separation or divorce.
“Family mediation also assists same sex couples as well as couples who have never lived together but have a child.
“The Mediation Act will give more options to families in difficult family law cases. Mediation is a reasonable, voluntary process that takes a common sense approach to resolving family problems.
“In my many years working as a Family Lawyer and Mediator, I have seen the significant benefits to all parties of the proper use of mediation in legal disputes.
“It is my hope that families going through a divorce or separation or other difficult circumstances see it as their first port of call.
“Under section 47 of the Family Law Act 1995, there is already legislative grounds for experts, usually qualified psychologists and psychiatrists, to determine the best interests of the child in family law cases involving children. I see the Mediation Act as complementing existing legislation.
“The passage of this Act is a major step in Irish legal reform. For many years, mediation has been used formally in certain sectors (i.e. employment disputes) but has generally been practised informally.
“One of the key principles enshrined in the Mediation Act is that mediation is a voluntary process.
“This Act will oblige those involved in legal disputes to be presented with mediation as an option. It will also help formalise the process with the establishment of a Mediation Council which will serve to oversee the development of the usage of mediation in Ireland.
“These measures will significantly add legitimacy to mediation’s role as a legal dispute resolution mechanism and this Bill should greatly increase use of mediation in Ireland.
“It will keep many civil and commercial disputes out of the courts system, leading to better outcomes for the parties involved and saving substantial sums on court costs,” said the Fine Gael TD.