Many people would applaud the idea of mediating as opposed to litigating if at all possible. It is significantly less costly, quicker and more peaceful than embarking on a court process where decisions and timetables are out of your hands. However, the new idea that all couples need to have a session of mediation before being allowed to engage in the court process sounds good in principle, but not necessarily in practice. Often one person wants to mediate and the other wants a battle. Just as it takes two to have a relationship, it takes two to mediate and both people need to be willing. Mediation is not a soft option, it should run parallel with the legal process and although lawyers get a bad press, they are invaluable in giving sound advice as to what is appropriate and what is not, when negotiating a settlement. Sometimes mediation is not the right forum for issues where one person is unwilling to negotiate, particularly where children are concerned. If a father or mother refuses to return the children after contact, no amount of mediating is going to change that parents mind and the advice and assistance of a lawyer will need to be sought and if necessary a court application will have to be made. Mediation is certainly a good alternative to unecessary litigation and many disputes and issues can be mediated. However, those that can’t will need to take some legal advice and try and acheive a satisfactory outcome through the court system. Fortunately, now there is an alternative to acrimonious litigation in the form of collaborative law. To find a collaborative lawyer go to