What is Conscious Uncoupling?

What is conscious uncoupling? It’s a term that you might have seen in news stories mentioning a few well-known celebrities, and it’s a concept that is sometimes mocked. However, there may just be some method to the madness where conscious uncoupling is regarded.

Sociologist Diane Vaughan first created her ‘uncoupling theory’ in 1976, and in 2009 Katherine Woodward Thomas came up with the term conscious uncoupling to which she began teaching this divorce alternative to students across the world.

Famously, Gwenyth Paltrow and Chris Martin announced that they were going through the process of conscious uncoupling in 2014. Since then, conscious uncoupling has been on Gwenyth Paltrow’s lifestyle and wellbeing website goop, where they discuss what conscious uncoupling actually is. This unsurprisingly brought a wave of awareness and interest in the term but celebrities aside, it’s a process that can have many benefits should a couple be able to think and act this way.

What Does Conscious Uncoupling Involve?

Conscious uncoupling is all about parting amicably; both partners working together to carry out a separation and thinking of what is best for everyone involved, including children. Respect is kept for each partner to carry out a process that can lessen the hardship and emotional turmoil of a divorce or separation. Conscious uncoupling removes any blame and anger and instead encourages both partners to accept responsibility of the relationship breakdown. This can certainly be easier for any children involved, but is also arguably much easier for both partners to process than a regular breakup or divorce can be.

Putting Conscious Uncoupling Into Practice

When it comes to a relationship or marriage breakdown, perhaps it is possible to give more thought to the basic practicalities before getting friends, family and lawyers involved. If you and your partner can present a united front about what’s happening and be clear about what the practical arrangements will be, it’s likely to make things easier all round.

When someone comes to see our family lawyers in the event of a separation or divorce, they often tell us that they want ‘what’s fair’, and it’s likely that their partner is telling their lawyer that too. The difficult bit, though, is that we can’t tell them exactly what is fear; all we can do as their lawyer is give them broad parameters and help them to devise proposals.

Sometimes, what’s fair is simply what works for your particular family and circumstances. Partners are the best people to decide this as they can take everything into consideration. Are your children at a particularly difficult stage? Is it exam time?

Many of these immediate practical issues are best addressed outside of the court. This will give you more control and the chance to be more creative about how to solve the problems caused by your separation. There are lots of alternative methods of dispute resolution. You could even consider visiting a barrister together to get some joint advice about the process. This may put you on the right road to reaching an agreement. You may already be very clear about what you both want, and simply want to instruct someone to prepare a written agreement for you. You can take control of the process and so what is right for you and your family.

There will always be couples who cannot resolve any of these issues without a Judge making a decision for them. However, for many people, a little more thought and focus on the priorities for their own family can lead to a much better outcome and easier separation.

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