Mediation… The Celebrity seal of approval?

Sadly, there is nothing new or perhaps surprising to hear of the demise of another celebrity marriage. Yet there was a subtle difference to the sad news last week that Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner were to divorce after 10 years of marriage.

Rather than rushing off to high profile divorce lawyers, to leave the other “quaking in their boots”, as many had done before, it is reported that the couple will work through their separation with a mediator.

“We go forward with a commitment to co-parenting our children, whose privacy we ask to be respected during this difficult time”

What a refreshing change from the infamous water throwing incident between Ms. Mills and Paul McCartney’s lawyer, during the course of what were evidently very acrimonious court proceedings. Instead this couple have chosen to work through and reach solutions for their family, with the assistance of a trained mediator.

So what is mediation and how is it different?

These are questions frequently asked by those coming to see me, who wish to explore all options available to them. Many are under the false impression that it is a form of counselling aimed at saving the relationship. Mediation works on the basis that a couple having already decided to take that difficult decision to separate; mediation offers people the opportunity to work through all the issues raised by this decision – whether it is how to tell the children; what future arrangements will be in place for them; how to resolve financial matters.

Mediation is entirely voluntary. Save for some limited exceptions, it is confidential. Where mediation is successful, it can be significantly cheaper and quicker than court proceedings. Perhaps more importantly, it can greatly improve communication, empowering people to have control of the future arrangements they wish to achieve, particularly where children are involved.
Separation is one of the most difficult and stressful events that people will endure. In years to come, the decisions taken then and their potential impact on life will be seen as the most important they will have ever taken.

This was the reason I decided to train as a mediator. I have practised as a family lawyer now for over 15 years and as an accredited mediator am qualified to undertake direct consultation with children. Mediation is just one of the valuable tools available to help people deal with separation and a successful outcome will be rewarding for all involved.

Personally, I wish Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner all the best in working through the issues they face and for demonstrating that there are better options than the bitterness of court proceedings.

Karen is an accredited mediator and collaborative family solicitor.

If you’d like to know more, please get in touch on 01675 464 400 or