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"Conscious uncoupling" on the rise?
08 May 2023

It may have been a phrase that made you cringe but “conscious uncoupling”, as fashioned by actress Gwyneth Paltrow and Coldplay singer Chris Martin, is something that more divorcing couples could try and emulate.

As Resolution, the national organisation of family solicitors that promotes a non-confrontational approach to family law matters marks its national awareness week (28 November - 2 December) with Good Divorce Week, Philip Cowell, a family law specialist at FBC Manby Bowdler, looks at the benefits of a more constructive approach to separation:

It may have seemed like a banal Americanism but Gwyneth and Chris’ conscious uncoupling is actually a brilliant example of a good way to separate. She described it as a way to stay as a family while taking the step of legally ending their marriage. 

The former couple holiday together and share care of their two children while managing to enter new relationships and get on with their now separate personal lives.

While the media would have you believe it’s a less amicable split between TV presenter Zoe Ball and her husband, DJ Norman Cook, aka Fatboy Slim, the couple now live next door to one another so they can both play active roles in the day to day life of their two children.

On the flipside, the very public playing out of the Madonna versus Guy Ritchie custody battle over their son Rocco showed the ramifications of a more toxic divorce procedure.

If you want to follow the lead of Gwyneth and Chris or Zoe and Norman, collaborative divorce is definitely the way forward for a less traumatic split. 
It’s a very different experience from pursing a court process and the aim is to encourage divorcing couples to communicate, which in turn reduces bad feeling and hostility between them. 

Each partner appoints a lawyer and discussions take place face to face with solicitors and their clients. This encourages people to work together, rather than against each other. It sounds simple because it is! 

Collaborative divorce works really well for people with children as it can create the best outcome for everyone. It can also be a quicker and cheaper way to come to an amicable solution as it doesn’t involve a long drawn out court process.

The Children and Families Act 2014 introduced a new law that says separating couples have to attend a meeting to find out whether mediation would be suitable for resolving their disputes, before heading into a courtroom, so that’s when to seriously consider the collaborative approach for the sake of everyone involved.

For advice on Divorce matters please contact Philip on 01952 208418 or

Meet Philip Cowell