As this is “Good Divorce Week 2016” I am writing today about conscious uncoupling and how to keep conflict out of marriage breakdown.
What is conscious uncoupling?
I am sure you will recognise the term “conscious uncoupling” as used by celebrity couple Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin to describe their separation in 2014. In fact, the term was coined by American psychotherapist and author, Katherine Woodward Thomas, who describes conscious uncoupling as a “a proven process for lovingly completing a relationship that will leave you feeling whole and healed and at peace”.
To Brits, this might seem a little too Californian and touchy-feely as a concept, but its aim is a noble one – to create a less damaging atmosphere during a break-up, which is particularly important if there are children involved.
This is not a new concept in the UK, where family mediation is becoming popular and most family solicitors belong to Resolution, a national association committed to a non-confrontational approach to separations.
How can I divorce amicably?
It is important to realise that consulting a lawyer is not a hostile move and does not set you on an unalterable course towards a legal battle. Early advice may assist you in resolving matters more swiftly and amicably than if you try to do so without.
In some cases there may be good legal reasons for delaying a divorce, in others an early divorce may be best. A solicitor can advise you appropriately and, if you wish to keep your separation amicable, it is essential that you choose a specialist family solicitor who is committed to resolving disputes in a harmonious manner. He or she will also direct you to other professionals such as pension advisers, therapists and mediators, if appropriate.
Although it is not possible for separating couples to see the same lawyer, you can both attend mediation together. However, legal advice will need to be obtained separately as well. Sometimes one spouse decides to instruct a lawyer but the other does not. In such cases, it is all too easy for the unrepresented party to become upset by unfamiliar legal proceedings, and so you should ensure that your lawyer is one who adopts a conciliatory tone aimed at reaching a solution, not inflaming matters.
With professional guidance it is possible to divorce and remain friends, but it is crucial to choose your solicitor wisely.
Image by David Amsler under a creative commons licence