By now, you have most likely heard the news that Jennifer Garner and Ben Affleck are divorcing. It seems many are “shocked” by this news, which actually shocks me. No relationship is perfect and no one knows what goes on behind closed doors in a marriage, even those closest to us. So why would it be shocking that Jen and Ben have experienced marital difficulties and have chosen the path of divorce, which is the path of 50% of all marriages. Surprise, they are just like the rest of us normal folk!

What I am pleasantly surprised by is the reports that Jen and Ben intend to seek mediation to resolve the issues related to their divorce. Of course, the accuracy of these reports can be questioned and who knows how their divorce will actually play out. Nonetheless, I am happy that a high profile couple is choosing an alternative dispute resolution process to divorce rather than fight it out in court for years at great emotional and financial expense, particularly for the benefit of their children as the amount of co-parent conflict is the number one factor that influences how children are impacted by divorce.

What is mediation? Mediation is a process to divorce that involves the two parties sitting together with a mediator and coming to agreements on a parenting plan and on division of assets and liabilities. The mediator acts as a neutral third party, not providing legal advice or guidance. Rather the mediator facilitates discussion, so that the parties can make their own decisions rather than a judge. This gives the parties control of decision-making. It also promotes communication and working together, rather than the typical win-lose adversarial nature of the legal system, which is particularly important for the parties’ continued co-parenting relationship. Mediation is also private and confidential. Not all divorcing couples are able to reach agreements through mediation yet for those who are able, mediation offers great benefits.

I hope that Jen and Ben are able to work through their divorce in mediation, focus on their co-parenting relationship, and keep their divorce proceedings from being tabloid fodder.

If war is the violent resolution of conflict, then peace is not the absence of conflict, but rather, the ability to resolve conflict without violence. – C.T. Lawrence Butler