Mediation charity launches Easter holidays advice guide

A national mediation charity has published a guide providing help and advice to parents who are going through a divorce or separation in the lead up to the Easter break.

NFM (National Family Mediation), the largest mediation provider in England and Wales, says it regularly sees a surge in enquiries immediately after the school holidays – with over 1005 enquiries in January 2024 alone, including more than 320 in the first week of the New Year.

The charity says that this is because many couples in conflict reach breaking point due to the added pressure of the holiday period, but also because disagreements about children and finance between couples who have already decided to split boil over.

The newly published guide, which is available on NFM’s website, offers advice to families on how to tackle difficult topics in a more amicable way this Easter, as well as information about a £500 government voucher scheme which can be used to fund mediation to discuss children matters using mediation providers such as NFM.

Commenting on the challenges faced by many families in conflict over the holiday period NFM CEO, Sarah Hawkins, said: “Year after year we see the same spike in enquiries immediately after an extended school holiday period.

“While couples reaching out in January and September are typically just going through the earlier stages of a separation, after Easter we are often contacted by couples who split post-Christmas but haven’t yet worked through how they want to manage the holiday periods moving forward.

“Typically speaking the bulk of the disagreements centre around children matters, including who gets to have the kids for key celebrations, but also who is going to care for the children while they are off school, and where the funding will come from for holiday camps.

“For many couples, Easter is the first real period of time where a family falls out of its typical day-to-day routine, and our guide is intended to provide just a little bit of support and guidance on how to deal with the challenges ahead. It also details what other help is available, including government support through the mediation voucher scheme.”

This year, the Easter holidays also coincide with the anniversary of 2nd anniversary of ‘no-fault’ divorce, a change in the law that allows estranged couples in England and Wales to file their applications for a divorce without apportioning blame to one party or the other.

NFM says that the shift in attitudes towards divorce – with more couples wanted to manage things amicably – has also resulted in a general uptake of mediation.

NFM is a not-for-profit family mediation provider which has a national network of affiliated members, which collectively delivers family mediation in over 500 locations across England and Wales, delivering some 16,000 mediations per year. 

Mediation reduces the conflict in separation, divorce or dissolution of civil partnership. It is also more cost-effective and quicker than using lawyers to negotiate, or using the court process. It also enables people to make their own arrangements for children, property and finance. NFM’s affiliate network of mediators are trained in all aspects of family law.