It is often said that within a single separation there are really three unique separations that must be addressed: (1) legal separation, (2) emotional separation, and (3) financial separation.
On Tuesday, Hollywood starlet Gwyneth Paltrow and her husband of 10 years, Coldplay frontman, Chris Martin announced plans to separate on Paltrow’s blog www.goop.com. The post, captioned “Conscious Uncoupling,” affirmed that Paltrow and Martin see themselves first and foremost as parents and requested privacy as the couple consciously uncouples and continues to co-parent.
For many this may be the first they have heard of conscious uncoupling, which is not a new concept created by Paltrow and Martin. In 2010, Katherine Woodward Thomas, a licensed psychotherapist and author, created a 5-week course “Conscious Uncoupling.” Woodward’s program and Paltrow’s method seem to both be premised on the idea that separation and divorce do not have to be a painful process. According to Thomas, with some effort, self-exploration, and her 5-week program, separation can actually be a healing, liberating and even joyful experience. Having no first-hand experience with Thomas’ program, it is safe to say that many therapists and counselors would agree with Thomas and have been working with families to bring a thoughtful and child-centered close to relationships, long before Paltrow and Martin took the concept of conscious uncoupling mainstream.
While Conscious Uncoupling is geared towards emotional separation and targets privacy, it leaves legal separation and financial separation unaddressed – enter Collaborative.
Collaborative Practice is a constructive, team-based, alternative to traditional divorce built upon mutual respect and three main principles:
1) Commitment to stay out of court and reach agreement - privately
2) Open and transparent exchange of information by both spouses
3) Child-focused solutions based upon individual goals and interests
Collaborative begins by discussing your needs with a collaboratively trained attorney, who will work with you to assemble a collaborative team, which may include: mental health professionals, who will act as divorce coaches and assist you in addressing emotional aspects of separation; child-specialists, with a background in psychology or social work, who will focus specifically on co-parenting and the needs of your child; and financial neutrals, who are accountants and often trained mediators, that have specific skills required to help restructure family finances.
Similar to Conscious Uncoupling, Collaborative is a holistic approach designed to address not only emotional separation, but also legal and financial separation. In both cases, the goal is to bring closure to relationships in a way that is as supportive, considerate, and as private as possible. While we are sad to see the marriage of Paltrow and Martin come to an end, we admire the couple's choice to proceed in a respectful and child-focused manner.
At the Law Office of Shelly M. Ingram, we strive to help clients find creative solutions in family law. If you are considering separation and would like to speak with an attorney to find out if Collaborative is right for you, please call 301.658.7354.