Having dealt with divorce now for some 10 years I know how difficult it is for both clients, even for the client that has initiated the separation and subsequent divorce. I also see the clients come out the other end and a year later tell me how much happier they are and how they have no regrets.

I do not write this to encourage divorce, far from it. I agree all couples have their up's and downs and as a Board member of our local Relate I know the hard work counsellors do to assist couples going through a crisis.

However, all too often married couples want to stay together "for the sake of the children" not realising that children pick up on much more than you realise and more often than not it is so much better for them to have two happy parents living apart than two parents living together, arguing, creating an atmosphere or just generally being unhappy.

Divorce does not need to be the horrid bitter court battle you see on the television or read about in newspapers. Most divorce lawyers, like myself, encourage couples to work together to find a reasonable solution to financial matters and reach agreement on how often the children spend time with each parent.

As a qualified mediator I can speak from first hand knowledge of the benefits of mediation. Many people find that matters can be progressed so much quicker through mediation as it is easier to bring out in the open the anxieties or concerns that each party may have of the other.

Not all couples feel they can sit in a room together and mediate when going through the emotions of a relationship breakdown, but there are other options available such as round table meetings with solicitors present.

No one should remain in an unhappy relationship just because they are scared of a bitter battle. At least take some initial legal advice to understand your position. Every divorce is different and specific advice on your own personal circumstances is always a good idea; know your options.