Mediation, in the context of relationship breakdown and separation, involves working through the various issues, such as where everyone will live, and when the children will have time with each parent, with a trained mediator. The mediator is neutral, does not take sides, and works to ensure that the views of both parents are heard and that solutions are reached.
Mediation is non-adversarial and therefore less stressful than a court process. It can be better suited to making arrangements for the family, particularly for children and joint parenting.
Mediation ensures that you are involved in the decision-making for your family and come to an agreement about how things will happen. This will inevitably involve compromise on both sides, but agreement is reached at the end of the process.
The alternative to mediation is an adversarial process through solicitors, or a court process. If you end up in court, ultimately a judge decides what happens for you and your family. Court should really be considered only as a last resort, and when all alternatives have failed. There is another option called collaborative law involving decision making by the parties and their solicitors. It is important to find solicitors who are qualified in collaborative law if you choose this option.