Information meetings pilots set up for unhappy couples

SOLICITORS will be invited to help oversee five information meeting pilot projects which are being set up by the Government.

Couples contemplating divorce will have to attend information meetings once the Family Law Act is implemented, probably in early 1999, although attendance at the pilots will be voluntary.

The projects are being established in Birmingham and Coventry, East Anglia, Cardiff and Swansea, Leicestershire and South Yorkshire, and will be run by a variety of voluntary agencies.

Under the terms of the pilots, local interdisciplinary forums, which will include solicitors, will be established to oversee the information meetings and co-ordinate training.

The Lord Chancellor's Department said that the five areas were selected to include a mixture of rural and urban populations, low- and high-income groups, ethnic minority populations and a Welsh location.

A team of academics will develop the pilot schemes, due to start in June this year, and a research programme to evaluate them.

Lord Mackay said: “The development of pilots will enable us to consult very widely on how to make sure we get the national system of information meetings right. Everyone who takes part, including divorcing couples themselves, will help shape the future.”