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Is “Conscious Uncoupling” Really a New Thing?

SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA – Conscious uncoupling. It was the phrase published on the blog of actress Gwyneth Paltrow that has had eyes rolling and pop culture pundits buzzing since March.

While this new age-sounding phrase isn’t a legal term, the fact that Paltrow uttered it got more than the pop culture bloggers talking about it; legitimate news organizations even tackled the story. So while it’s en vogue, you might be interested to know there actually is some legal precedent to the intent Paltrow and husband Chris Martin of Coldplay had in choosing this route to separation.

And before we go any further, know this: conscious uncoupling really is a “thing,” and not some silly term Paltrow and Martin made up. Conscious uncoupling is a fairly new practice developed by psychotherapist and author Katherine Woodward Thomas. It describes a breakup characterized by good will, generosity and respect, Thomas said on the Today show in March. It is a process designed to leave both parties feeling valued and appreciated for all that was shared. Couples who choose this route to separation are striving to minimize the damage they do to themselves, their children and to each other.

Here in our practice, we deal with our fair share of contentious divorces involving angry couples. But it isn’t always that way.

“There always are couples who don’t hate each other, they just simply don’t wish to be together any longer and they seek a clean break that doesn’t leave either party emotionally scarred for life,” says San Diego divorce lawyer John Griffith. “We have helped plenty of clients move through the process of legal separation and later, divorce through agreements and mediation.”

Yes, before conscious uncoupling, the courts have provided avenues for couples to part amicably. The state of California makes it possible for couples to settle divorce disputes with an agreement or a court order. We help clients remain in the driver’s seat when it comes to resolving their family law issues by assisting them in reaching agreements on disputed issues.

Even though it may sound silly to some, we actually like what conscious uncoupling stands for. Some marriage experts view conscious uncoupling not just as a kinder, gentler path to divorce, but also of acknowledging that the relationship also had its successes, according to an International Business Times article written in August. It’s also done with the notion of protecting the children involved.

Paltrow and Martin have two children who have been their priority as they made this transition.

“We are parents first and foremost, to two incredibly wonderful children and we ask for their and our space and privacy to be respected at this difficult time,” Paltrow wrote on her blog, Goop. “We have always conducted our relationship privately, and we hope that as we consciously uncouple and coparent, we will be able to continue in the same manner.”

Style writer Merle Ginsberg says conscious uncoupling could be the term of 2014.

“I do think the vocabulary of divorce is about to change,” Ginsberg told the Today show.

Here at Griffith, Young & Lass, we welcome it. No matter what you call it – a friendly divorce, or conscious uncoupling – treating each other with respect and dignity during this difficult time in life will have lasting benefits.

We are here to assist you if you feel your marriage has run its course and you seek an amicable end to it. Contact us today for a free consultation.