05/02/2016 09:00 GMT | Updated 05/02/2017 05:12 GMT

No Need for a Valentine's Day Florist? Avoid Solicitors Too

If you've been mooching down the High Street within the past month, the sea of red on display means you can't have missed the fact that Valentine's Day is nearly upon us.

But crimson in card shops and heart-shaped chocolate boxes turn the stomach when you've just split up.

So separating and divorcing couples who face a miserable Valentine's Day will not be troubling the local florist this year.

Yet here's the thing: neither do they need to bother the solicitor while they're on the High Street, because there's a much better way to settle decisions about money, property and parenting.

You see, once a couple has made the landmark decision to separate, they usually think their next step must be to head off to a lawyer's office. It's a well-trodden route that leads to a family court room, and the stress, sweat and tears of a battle. And then a judge hands down a decision on your family's future and on those vital things you used to guard jointly ... and it's a decision that's rarely in anyone's best interests. That's probably not a surprise since the judge is the person in the room who knows least about your family.

The good news is that there is a more effective way to get things sorted and help you quickly move on to the next stage of your lives. It's called family mediation. And it's not only more effective, but also usually much quicker, cheaper and less stressful.

In family mediation, separating couples work with a trained, professional third party mediator to agree post-separation arrangements on property, finance and parenting. The process does not try to keep couples together but helps them agree settlements that are in the best interests of all involved, especially children. NFM is the largest provider of family mediation in England and Wales, and eight out of 10 couples who work with its trained mediators reach full settlement.

Family mediation can help you make long-term plans for the future that take everyone's interests into account, especially the children. Importantly, Legal Aid remains available for family mediation.

And couples who try mediation usually find it a breath of fresh air. They keep more control of their own destinies, instead of handing it over to courts, having been empowered to chart the way ahead. It's their future after all.

Let's remember that all the cuddly teddies in the world won't change the fact that for separating couples February 14th isn't hearts and roses, but a bitter reminder of how they feel towards their ex.

The traditional solicitor-court room route for a big split is likely to see couples still battling it out NEXT Valentines' Day. Much better to move things on as quickly as you can.

So if you're facing this Valentine's Day with an empty feeling or a heavy heart, and you want to know more about family mediation, get in touch with NFM on 0300 4000 636 or visit