Southern California Family Law Blog

In March 2014, actress Gwyneth Paltrow announced on her website that she and her husband, Coldplay lead singer Chris Martin, decided to separate after 10 years of marriage.[1] The end of a marriage is not an unusual event, but what made this announcement curious was a term the actress used to describe the break up. She called it “conscious uncoupling,” which left the public wondering: “What in the world does that mean?”

What Exactly is Conscious Uncoupling?

Paltrow and Martin have not invented something new. Rather, conscious uncoupling is really an alternative approach to divorce or separation. Where it differs from the more common splits is in the attitude of the spouses toward the process. Similar to couples’ therapy sessions that focus on helping spouses repair a broken marriage, psychotherapist Katherine Woodward Thomas created a five-week online conscious uncoupling program that teaches couples how to peacefully end their marriage.[2]

Some have characterized conscious uncoupling as making a plan to end a relationship on friendly terms by removing emotional reactions such as anger or fear from the process.[3] Dr. Sonya Rhodes, a psychotherapist and author, describes it this way:

“As I see it, the term means that couples confront their irreconcilable differences by looking into themselves instead of blaming their partners. Each partner takes a reflective, conscious stance toward what role he or she has played in the dissolution of the couple. This is actually a pretty radical point of view when you consider that when nearly all people talk about their divorces, there’s always some element of blaming their partner.”[4]

What is the Legal Effect?

In actuality, conscious uncoupling is not a process that has any legal effect, and it does not give the same sort of legal protections that soon-to-be-ex-spouses have with legal separation or divorce.[5] It is a “pre-divorce” process that sets the stage for a more amicable resolution to ending a marriage.[6]

If you are ending your marriage, the best way to protect your assets is through legal separation or divorce. If you are splitting amicably, you and your ex-spouse can come to a divorce agreement through mediation.

Contact the Family Law Attorneys at Wallin & Klarich Today

If you are considering a divorce action, and you have questions about your options, contact one of our experienced attorneys as soon as possible. At Wallin & Klarich, our attorneys have over 30 years of experience in family law practice, including traditional and alternative dispute resolution, child custody cases, and divorce cases. We are committed to helping guide you through the process. Our attorneys are available to answer any of your questions.

With offices in Los Angeles, Sherman Oaks, Torrance, Tustin, San Diego, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura, West Covina and Victorville, there is a Wallin & Klarich family law attorney near you no matter where you work or live.

Call us today at (888) 749-7428 for a free phone consultation. We will be there when you call.

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