Parents living in Alton who have decided to separate or divorce in 2024 are being urged to find out how to avoid court to settle money and parenting arrangements in Family Mediation Week from January 22 to 26.

January usually sees a dramatic rise in the number of parents deciding to live apart as the pressures of Christmas act as a final straw for relationships.

Paul Wilson – an accredited family mediator at Bookers and Bolton, which serves Alton and nearby villages – said Family Mediation Week is designed to raise awareness of the benefits of family mediation, a process that can help ex-partners agree what works for them while avoiding the court process with all the stress, delay and cost it can bring.

He added: “Many parents emerge from the festive period feeling defeated by the pressures on relationships and finances that have been highlighted during the holiday period. Here in Alton we find parents in this position simply do not know which way to turn. Their life-changing decision to separate brings with it so many tough questions – who lives where, where will the children live and how will we make sure we each spend time with them, how will we sort money, what about debts and pensions – and what about the family dog?

“Family Mediation Week offers separating parents information about their options as they look to make arrangements for parenting, property and finance.

“Family mediation is a process where an independent, professionally-trained mediator helps you work these things out, enabling you to avoid courtroom confrontation. Professional mediators help empower you to create long-term solutions for your particular circumstances.”

Bookers and Bolton is taking part in the Ministry of Justice’s Family Mediation Voucher Scheme, which meets up to £500 of mediation costs for families if they need to discuss arrangements for children. For details visit, email [email protected], or call 01420 558334/335.