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New way to contact LAB’s mediation service
Fiona McAuslan (centre), with LAB staff Carol Gallagher and Garrett Murphy (Pic: Conor McCabe)

22 Feb 2024 / mediation Print

New way to contact LAB’s mediation service

The Legal Aid Board (LAB) has launched a new call-back feature on its website that will allow people to make initial contact with its Family Mediation Service.

The mediation service offers free assistance to all families – including married, cohabiting, and same-sex couples.

It provides free mediation to families who have undergone a divorce or separation, or those who are living apart.

The service also provides help to families navigating challenges in the aftermath of these decisions, in the areas of parenting, finances, and the family home.

The board is the statutory, independent body responsible for the provision of civil legal aid and advice to people unable to afford legal representation.

Rise in divorce cases

Fiona McAuslan (director, Family Mediation Service) said that courts figures showed that there had been a 71% increase in divorce cases in the High Court since 2017.

“The breakdown of a marriage or relationship brings families into an unexpected and unplanned journey of change and transition. It is a stressful and difficult time, with many people underestimating the challenges that such a transition brings,” she added.

McAuslan described the mediation service as one that empowered people to navigate disputes “through understanding, communication and compassion”.

She added that the service had found that decisions taken together during the mediation process were more likely to be honoured by both sides.

Children’s interests

McAuslan emphasised the importance of managing a family change in a way that protected the best interests of children.

The mediation service provides parenting plans that cover agreements on how best to share time with children, how to manage responsibilities, and how to make decisions about the children that considers the child’s needs and interests.

The call-back feature for the Family Mediation Service can be accessed at the Legal Aid Board’s website.

Meanwhile, Nuala Egan SC has been appointed as chair of the Legal Aid Board.

The experienced barrister was welcomed by chief executive Joan Crawford.

Gazette Desk
Gazette.ie is the daily legal news site of the Law Society of Ireland