Caroline Fell, a Partner in Stone King's Family & Mediation Team, appeared on two radio stations in Bath to discuss Family Mediation Week.
The information week runs from 18-22 January, and aims to highlight the benefits of mediation for separating couples as well as helping to take the emotion out of what can be a very difficult time.
Caroline told Radio Bath presenter Robbie Dixon:
"What mediation provides is a neutral place with an impartial mediator who can sit down with separating couples and explore the different options that are available to them, whether in relation to the arrangements for children or in relation to the disentangling of their different resources.
"It (separating) is a hugely stressful and difficult time and to do that alone can be difficult.
"To do that through lawyers or the court is pretty expensive and stressful so what mediation aims to do is assist a separating couple in taking their own decisions, but just with a bit of guidance and support.
"Statistics show that couples who resolve matters through mediation rather than through a court process tend to achieve it a lot quicker in just 25 per cent of the time.
"It tends to be a lot less stressful and is a simpler process with couple's wishes and intentions at the heart of it, rather than having a judge imposing decisions on them.”
Mediation is helpful for children too.
"Research has shown that allowing a child's voice to be heard really helps them in coming to terms with their parents' separation and reduces the impact on them at a later stage,” said Caroline.
"What is now possible within mediation is for a mediator, providing they are appropriately trained, to meet with a child, separately to their parents, to allow them to talk about how they are feeling and what they would like to happen.
"That is not to say they make the decisions, far from it, but it allows them to be heard and for the mediator to take the child's thoughts back to the parents (in an agreed format) to explain how the child is feeling and incorporating that into any decisions they might make going forward."
Currently 95 per cent of mediations are taking place via Zoom and other platforms, and Caroline said they are working well.
"We have actually seen an uptake of mediation in lockdown to assist people moving on with their lives," added Caroline.
"I think it has proved to be a very intense time for people who may already have had difficulties in their relationship and it has perhaps speeded up the process of separation.
“There has been an increase in enquiries over the last nine or so months – it (the pandemic) really has been so stressful for people.
"We always say to people have you tried counselling, is there a way of working through this? Particularly at the moment where there are so many stresses which hopefully won't be indefinite; but if that's not an option, or has been tried and hasn't worked I would say you don't have to go through this alone, there is help out there to help unpick life together.
"It is possible to move forward in a way which is less stressful forward with the support of a mediator.
"We also have to remember that if you have got children together you are going to be connected not only until the children are 18 but beyond as well, for graduations, marriages etc so an ability to preserve a good relationship with your former partner is hugely beneficial for the children."
Bath Business News has also covered Stone King's offer of free information sessions as part of Family Mediation Week, and Caroline also appeared on Bath Radio on 19 January.
The Bath Business News article can be read here.