Separating couples who face a miserable Valentine’s Day will not be troubling the High Street florist this year … but neither do they need the High Street solicitor to settle their differences, says a leading family charity.
“Crimson in card shops and heart-shaped chocolate boxes turn the stomach when you’ve just split up,” says Jane Robey, Chief Executive of National Family Mediation (NFM). “For separating couples February 14th isn’t hearts and roses, but a bitter reminder of how they feel towards their ex. 
“Whilst Valentine’s Day has its traditions, people who’ve just broken up won’t be troubling the High Street florist this year. Neither do they need to beat the ‘traditional’ path to the High Street solicitor to settle money, property and parenting issues after the big split. There are more effective ways to get things sorted and help you quickly move on to the next stage of your lives,” she added. 
In family mediation, separating couples work with a trained, professional third party mediator to agree post-separation arrangements on property, finance and parenting. The process does not try to keep couples together but helps them agree settlements that are in the best interests of all involved, especially children. NFM is the largest provider of family mediation in England and Wales, and eight out of 10 couples who work with its trained mediators reach full settlement. 
“Family mediation can help you make long-term plans for the future that take everyone’s interests into account, especially the children, and it’s usually cheaper, quicker and less stressful,” says Jane Robey. “Legal Aid remains available for family mediation.”
“Many couples think their only option once they’ve decided to separate is to head off to solicitor to prepare for a very expensive court room confrontation in which they can achieve a ‘victory’ over their ex. But families who try mediation usually find it a breath of fresh air. They keep more control of their own destinies, instead of handing it over to courts, having been empowered to chart the way ahead. It’s their future after all.”
With National Audit Office figures on legally-aided mediation showing the average time for a mediated case to be completed as 110 days, compared with 435 days for court cases on similar issues, Jane Robey concludes: “The traditional solicitor-court room route is likely to see couples still battling it out NEXT Valentines’ Day. Much better to move things on as quickly as you can.” 
Anyone wanting to know more about family mediation, or to discuss the options, can contact NFM on 0300 4000 636. 

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