Back-to-school September signals soaring demand for unhappy couples’ dispute resolution

- Holidays are bad for strained relationships, says leading family charity

- Experience across England and Wales backs up new US research

- Demand for alternative dispute resolution services likely to rise

- Separating couples looking to avoid court after TV show highlights mediation 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.

Experts working for National Family Mediation (NFM) say their experience of recent years backs up brand new research from the USA, which indicates family holidays can be bad for strained relationships.

Jane Robey
“Holidays often fail to live up to expectations, and that’s one reason we see an increase in demand for our specialist family mediators in September. When adults go back to work and the children start school, routine sets in, often after a disappointing summer,” says Jane Robey, NFM’s Chief Executive.

Research published in August by the University of Washington shows filings for divorce over the past 14 years rising seasonally, after the Christmas and summer vacation periods, peaking in spring and in September.

“We’ve long known the post-Christmas period provokes unhappy couples to move on, but our experience of recent years backs up the idea of a post-summer surge too,” adds Jane Robey. “Our services are bracing themselves for a further uptake in demand when the schools return.

“It’s been a year of rising demand for NFM, with the ‘traditional’ January spike built upon in June when the charity’s ground-breaking TV documentary series, Mr v Mrs: Call The Mediator led to a further increase.

“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, 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.”

People 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.

For more about the University of Washington research, use this link.