Our legal system is based on the concept that the best way to sort out a problem, be it a divorce or a personal injury case, is for each side to hire a lawyer and for them to slug it out in court.
OK for an industrial injury but not such a good plan when it comes to sorting out the emotion sodden wreckage (not to mention finances) of a relationship between two people who once loved each other.
This works on upon an entirely different concept and relies upon each of you genuinely wanting to divorce in a civilized and least damaging way possible. Without this commitment the process it will fail and you will need to go the traditional route with solicitors from day one. Mediators come in a number of different flavours from the plain Vanilla of Relate (not strictly mediation, but a very useful place to start) to the Rum ‘n' Raisin of a ‘collaborative law' approach.
The most popular is the Family Mediation where an experienced mediator will meet with both of you together and cover all aspects of the divorce. Some mediators will also meet with each of you separately at least initially. This can be very useful as some progress can be made before the three of you meet up together and continue to work towards a comprehensive agreement. You can also try the Family Mediators Association or National Family Mediation for more infomation and advice.
An interesting hybrid of lawyer and mediator whereby one person can act for both parties. The advantage is that they are legally qualified and can work with you to take the whole process to a conclusion.
This is an idea which combines the two concepts of mediation and legal confrontation. You sit together around a table each with your lawyer and try to work out an agreement. For many this will provide the right balance between soft mediation and the rough and tumble of a court room skirmish. However, if this does not work then new lawyers have to be appointed as the existing ones are not permitted to continue.
Whichever way you go there are a number of ways to solve the difficult and emotionally charged issues that are at the centre of your divorce. In the end the traditional approach of a lawyer each and little contact between you may be best. However, try a little mediation first, it just might work.