Collaborative Divorce: A Holistic Approach to Conscious Uncoupling

Upset couple look away from each other at the beach Concept for Conscious Uncoupling

It is often said that within a divorce there are three unique separations that must each be addressed: (1) legal separation, (2) emotional separation, and (3) financial separation. The Collaborative Divorce model, sometimes called Collaborative Law or Collaborative Practice, offers a holistic approach to the legal side of conscious uncoupling. By making space for people’s needs and emotions within the divorce process, collaborative divorce can reduce conflict between parents, and make it easier for them to co-parent even as they take steps to start their next chapter.

What is Conscious Uncoupling?

The idea of “conscious uncoupling” has been around for more than a decade. It was first developed by psychologist Katerine Woodward Thomas in 2010 and popularized by Gweneth Paltrow in her divorce from Chris Martin in 2014. It is a therapeutic process that can help divorcing couples separate from one another while causing the least emotional damage possible. In its current form, conscious uncoupling isn’t limited to just divorce. It can also be used by co-parents and partners ending an unmarried relationship, or by anyone who is struggling with a breakup. Spouses who “consciously uncouple” intentionally focus on bringing a respectful end to their relationship, working hard to reduce conflict and to focus on healthy co-parenting.

The public perception of conscious uncoupling may be connected to ideas of spiritualism and celebrity. However, the psychological theories behind the process are useful for parents in every walk of life. Conscious uncoupling allows parents and divorcing spouses to do the work of emotionally separating from their partners before stepping into the courthouse or sitting down at the negotiating table. That way, when it comes time for the legal process to begin, they can focus on their practical and financial needs, as well as what is best for themselves and their children, without emotion interfering.

There are five stages to conscious uncoupling:

  1. Releasing negative emotions and channeling them into positive activities
  2. Redefining yourself as an individual, without the context of your partner
  3. Acknowledging and breaking negative behavior patterns that cause unhealthy relationships
  4. Taking responsibility for your own life and improving your circumstances
  5. Defining what your ideal life will be after the divorce is finalized

Therapists, counselors, and psychologists can all assist patients or clients to work through these five stages, bringing emotional closure to the relationship, and defining the next chapter. However, they do not usually play a direct role in the parties’ legal and financial separation. For that, couples seeking to consciously uncouple can turn to Collaborative Divorce.

How Collaborative Divorce Helps with Conscious Uncoupling

Collaborative divorce is a constructive, team-based alternative to traditional divorce built upon mutual respect and three main principles:

  1. A commitment to reaching agreements privately, outside of court
  2. Open and transparent exchange of information by both spouses
  3. Child-focused solutions based upon individual goals and interests

The Collaborative Practice begins by discussing your needs with a collaboratively trained family law attorney, who will work with you to assemble a collaborative team, which may include:

  • Mental health professionals, who will act as divorce coaches and individual therapists to 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;
  • Neutral financial advisors, who are accountants and often trained mediators, that have specific skills required to help restructure family finances.

Similar to conscious uncoupling, Collaborative Divorce 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.

Collaborative law gives couples the time and space to investigate options, define their futures, and come to an agreement about their futures as single, co-parenting adults. When emotions run high – and they do – the parties can ask for a break and address those emotions with the divorce coach on the spot, or with their own therapists in between negotiation sessions. In fact, one of the benefits of the Collaborative Process is that it is not tied to the court’s schedule. You can resolve things quickly, or take your time to process. You can also receive training from the professionals involved in conflict resolution, co-parenting techniques, and communication strategies that will make it easier to resolve disputes that arise after the judgment is entered, and avoid heading back to court for post-judgment custody matters.

Consciously Uncouple with the Help of a Howard County Collaborative Divorce Attorney

Our founder, Shelly Ingram, is a certified Maryland Collaborative divorce attorney. She knows how to listen to your needs and can customize the Collaborative Process to help you meet them. She will help you identify your financial and legal goals, and build a team of collaborative law professionals who will guide you through the process of conscious uncoupling. Call (301) 658-7354 or contact us today to schedule a consultation with an attorney.

Categories: Collaborative, Divorce