Back-to-school : September signals soaring demand for unhappy couples’ dispute resolution

As September dawns, dispute resolution specialists across England and Wales are getting ready for an upturn in demand as disillusioned couples start the painful process of separation, determined to avoid courtroom confrontation.

Experts working for National Family Mediation (NFM) say their experience of recent years shows an increasing trend for separation after the long school holiday. Family holidays can be bad for strained relationships.

“Holidays often fail to live up to expectations, and that’s one reason we see an increase in demand for our specialist family mediators in September. When adults go back to work and the children start school, routine sets in, often after a disappointing summer,” says Jane Robey, NFM’s Chief Executive.

“We’ve long known the post-Christmas period provokes unhappy couples to move on, but our experience of recent years backs up the idea of a post-summer surge too,” adds Jane Robey. “Our services are bracing themselves for a further uptake in demand when the schools return”.

“It has been a year of rising demand for NFM, with the ‘traditional’ January spike built upon by the increasing pressure families have experienced during the national lockdown”.

“Of course, the lockdown has affected all of us in some way but for parents looking to separate the problems are amplified because they have encountered the blockages and delays in the system.”

Parents who come to mediation bypass the blockages because they can get agreements in place much quicker and with much less stress than the usual legal route. There is also the added bonus that funding is available for mediation. Parents who need to put in place arrangements for their future can now easily access mediation services and avoid the stress of the courtroom battleground following the extension of the Ministry of Justice family mediation voucher scheme which makes a £500 contribution available to parents for mediation.

“Word of mouth is a powerful tool, and the message is getting through that family mediation is cheaper, quicker, and much less stressful than a courtroom battle with your ex.”

People who want to find their nearest family mediator can type their postcode at or call 0300 4000 636 as a national organisation there is a mediator near you.

Legal Aid for a mediated separation is still available.