Six-month wait in Cork for relationship mediation services

Six-month wait in Cork for relationship mediation services
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CORK has one of the longest waiting times for mediation in relationship breakdown, according to the latest figures.

At the end of February, there was a wait of six months (24 weeks) for an appointment for family mediation, provided through the Legal Aid Board.

The Cork figure was second in the country, behind Louth, which had a wait of 48 weeks.

Sources in the area said the reason for the delay in mediation appointments is a lack of personnel being trained for the role.

The demand for mediation has increased steadily in recent years as it is now viewed as a cost-saving alternative to court.

The service helps couples who have decided to separate to reach decisions on aspects like children, finances and property without having to go to court.

It is not a legal advice service, nor is it a counselling service.

Instead, it gives a couple the opportunity to make decisions about the future, with the help of a mediator.

In some cases, the mediator is not a solicitor.

The service started in Cork in 2013.

One source said that in some cases, a delay in getting an appointment for mediation can result in those seeking mediation having time to calm emotions before the mediation date.

The source said: "A lot of the time, the delay can be beneficial as it gives people time to get over the initial shock and hurt about the breakdown."

Mediation was enshrined in law in 2017, with the passage of the Mediation Act 2017.

Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan has said that the Legal Aid Board will provide people on the waiting list with short notice appointments on foot of cancellations.

He added: "Those clients who have a pending court date are accommodated, if possible, with priority appointments."

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