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Is conscious uncoupling a new substitution for divorce?

Whether we like it or not, celebrities can be a driving force behind new trends. This might include a new fashion style, a new type of diet or even a new way to break up. Yes, we’re talking about Gwyneth Paltrow, Chris Martin and their decision to “consciously uncouple” instead of divorce. This being a Wellesley family law blog, it is a topic our readers may want to know more about.

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, the term conscious uncoupling essentially means to knowingly disconnect. Don’t couples that file for divorce know that they are separating? It’s a valid question, but according to an essay posted on Paltrow’s blog, it is about “something far more powerful.”

What is that something? It is a perspective that involves no animosity but encouragement instead. “When we understand that both [spouses] are actually partners in each other’s spiritual progress, animosity dissolves much quicker and a new paradigm for conscious uncoupling emerges, replacing the traditional, contentious divorce,” the essay related.

The essay claims that it replaces the traditional divorce, but does it really? Is this really a new substitution for divorce? The answer is that it depends. The process itself isn’t actually a legal alternative. Those that want to seek this type of separation should still come to a formal agreement and have it authorized by a court to legally end their marriage.

Whether conscious uncoupling is a term that has staying power has yet to be seen, but whether it ever becomes official or not doesn’t really matter. Couples that want to come to an amicable agreement, on their own, already have alternatives to adversarial divorce available to them in Massachusetts, including divorce mediation and collaborative divorce.

Following a celebrity’s fashion advice is one thing, but legal advice should be sought from a family law attorney, and divorce or an alternative certainly fall into this category.

Source: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, “Is ‘conscious uncoupling’ a better way to divorce?” Anya Sostek, March 29, 2014

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