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Organised by the Family Mediation Association, the aim of Family Mediation Week (11-15 January 2016) is to let more people know about the benefits of family mediation, and to encourage separating couples to consider family mediation as a way of helping them to take control of their situation and to make decisions together.

Many people contemplating separation or divorce believe it is inevitable that they will find themselves in court and, every year, thousands of families are torn apart by bitter court battles. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Family mediation has helped many divorcing parents build a constructive future for their family, with clear guidance about what the options are and without a court imposing decisions on them.

Sadly, this time of year often sees an increase in the number of couples going their separate ways. We want to help those people understand that lawyers and courts aren’t their only divorce option, and also to let friends and family know that family mediation is an option they can suggest to someone close to them who is experiencing separation and doesn’t know where to go for help.

In a national survey carried out by YouGov, 56% of participants said they hadn’t heard of mediation. 45% didn’t know of any ways to settle matters other than going to court. 38% of people didn’t know how to settle matters without using lawyers or the courts. Even if they have heard of mediation, many people think its main purpose is to get couples to get back together. It isn’t (unless this is what both partners want and then they would be encouraged to go to counselling).

Mediation is not just a great way to resolve family disputes.  It is also successful in civil and commercial and workplace disputes, amongst others.  Is it not about time that there was a Mediation Week to cover all aspects of mediation?