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24 January 2012, 10:38 | Updated: 24 January 2012, 10:50
The government's Justice Secretary Ken Clarke's been in Milton Keynes visiting couples who have used mediation services when considering splitting up.
Couples are being urged to use mediation, instead of heading straight to court, because it's usually quicker, cheaper and a more amicable alternative.
Mr Clarke (pictured, on the right) met family mediators at Focus Mediation on Silbury Boulevard in Central Milton Keynes on Monday 23 January 2012. The professionally-trained mediators work with couples and families to reach agreements when they separate or divorce, especially where children are involved.
Mr Clarke said "In the vast majority of cases mediation is a much more sensible way for couples to conduct their separation – it is quicker, cheaper, less confrontational and it encourages people to resolve their issues rather than turning to judges and lawyers.
“Services such as Focus Mediation play a key role in the future of our family justice system, and are especially effective where children are involved."
Mary Banham-Hall, Mediator at Focus Mediation said "Mediation brings couples together in a neutral and non-hostile environment to improve communication and focus on any children’s needs.
"The impartial mediator helps the couple to resolve their differences and settle child residence and contact, along with every aspect of their financial settlement in a thoughtful and co-operative way.”
"It can be fast and cost effective and can achieve a huge saving in legal costs – plus people can start to solve their problems rather than fighting over them. It is the best way to end relationships, if they have to end."