School summer holiday threatens breaking point for many couples

With the long school summer holiday days away, the country’s leading provider of family mediation is gearing up for an increase in demand from divorcing and separating couples.

National Family Mediation’s (NFM) Chief Executive, Jane Robey, says: “The summer holiday often proves the final straw for strained relationships, and the next six weeks will be a breaking point for many couples.

“Many couples who are on the edge of separation work through the tensions for the sake of their children, taking a day at a time,” she adds.

But she identifies three factors that shift many of them from an uneasy relationship to an unworkable one during the summer:
·         more family time together in close proximity
·         changes in established daily routines, and
·         the expense of going away, and keeping family members entertained

“The long school summer holiday will be the final straw for many couples whose relationships have been strained for some time. It’s not just the week away somewhere warm, but the time at home when stressed-out families are spending more time together,” Jane Robey says.

She says the recent BBC Two TV series ‘Mr v Mrs: Call The Mediator’, which featured NFM mediators had raised the profile of mediation and that increasing number of people understand that when a relationship breaks down and property, finance and parenting arrangements need to be sorted, there are alternatives to a court room battle.

“Family mediation is four times quicker and more cost effective than going to court to settle a divorce. Professional mediators believe it is the families affected by separation that are best placed to explore and agree the key details of their separation, rather than handing these judgements to a family court.

“As the summer holiday goes on, NFM’s mediators will expect to see more and more couples who have already separated or divorced seeking to change the arrangements imposed on them by a family court.

“Separated families often find the summer holiday is when they discover agreements that were imposed on them by courts are simply not workable. Arrangements for picking up and dropping off the children that might work in term-time are exposed as impractical by changes in established routines. Resentments resurface, hostilities accelerate, and the child can be caught helplessly in the middle,” she adds.

Parents who want to find their nearest family mediator can type their postcode at or call 0300 4000 636.

Legal Aid for a mediated separation is still available.