•New research from the US backs up mediators' experience in England & Wales
•Demand for couple dispute resolution will rise when kids are back at school
•Separating couples want to avoid court after TV show highlights alternative
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 court room confrontation.
Mediators working for our network know from experience of recent years that there's an increase in phone call and email traffic once youngsters return to school.
Put simply, family holidays can be bad for strained relationships.
And now this has been backed up by brand new research from across the Atlantic. Work by researchers at The University of Washington show filings for divorce over the past 14 years in the USA rising seasonally, after the Christmas and summer vacation periods, peaking in spring and in September.
Holidays often fail to live up to expectations, and that's one reason we see an increase in demand for our family mediators at this time of the year. When adults go back to work and the children start school, routine sets in, often after a disappointing summer.
We've long known the post-Christmas period provokes unhappy couples to move on, but recent years have seen a post-summer surge too. Our services are bracing themselves for a further uptake in demand when the schools return.
In fact it's been a year of rising demand, with the 'traditional' January spike built upon in June when the ground-breaking TV documentary series, Mr v Mrs: Call The Mediator led to a further increase.
Government has played its part too. A key law change in 2014, making it compulsory for separating couples to consider mediation before they can apply for a court order, has helped raise awareness that there are alternative ways to settle disputes over parenting, property and money.
Word of mouth is a powerful tool as well, and together with the TV show and other factors, the message is getting through that family mediation is cheaper, quicker and less stressful than a court room battle with your ex.
Family mediators can help families resolve all the practical, legal, emotional and financial issues that arise from separation. It's worth pointing out that Legal Aid for a mediated separation is still available, and in some cases people can qualify for a free mediation session even if they're not eligible for legal aid, but their ex is.