It is the New Year, and according to media reports, a time when many people face the reality of separation and most will at least start out in the hope that whatever needs to be done can be dealt with as painlessly and economically as possible. It should therefore be the case, when choosing between mediation or litigation, that mediation is the preferred option. It might come as some surprise then that the figures speak very differently.Most couples who separate or divorce do not in fact seek the mediation route. They may well go to a solicitor who suggests or even recommends mediation but for one reason or another they end up litigating, arguing through the courts rather than engaging in far more constructive round table discussions. Why is this? Well actually, although mediation may seem the most sensible and rational option, when you fall out of love and when you separate, rational thinking often gets lost in the heat of the moment. There may be bitter recriminations, painful memories, resentment, anger, despair, sadness. All these emotions can persuade people that using the courts, “having their say”, having their day in court, putting their case as forcefully as possible, possibly even proving that they are right in some way is worth the agony and expense of litigation. I disagree! It is hardly ever worth it. In mediation you are on your own with the mediator, there is no one there to help, defend or speak for you. The onus is on you and perhaps people find it difficult to behave well with the person they once loved who is now very much on the opposite side of the fence. People may want the support, advice and encouragement of their lawyer and may feel justified in putting forward their case to possibly get more of the assets or more time with the children. But obviously there is only so much to be divided and if money is spent on court proceedings then there is less for the parties. For whatever reason, it can be difficult for people to choose mediation which is why the take-up has been surprisingly low but perhaps this year’s New Year’s Resolution should be mediation and not litigation for separating couples. For more information or to discuss further please contact Nicky Gough on 07711 527968 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.