FAMILIES waiting for mediation in Cork last year had a wait of six months for an appointment, according to the latest figures.
According to figures in the Legal Aid Board’s annual report for 2020, there was a wait of 24 weeks in Cork, with Athlone having the longest waiting time, of 49 weeks.
In 2020, the Legal Aid Board set up a Legal and Mediation Information Helpline to provide information, legal advice and mediation assistance, especially to people experiencing difficulties with arrangements in relation to children.
According to the Legal Aid Board, someone wishing to avail of mediation to help resolve a problem “must apply to any of the Board’s family mediation offices or on occasion to a mediation service at a court venue.”
The other person in the dispute must be willing to attend before an appointment is offered.
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.
Mediation was enshrined in law in 2017, with the passage of the Mediation Act 2017.