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12th May, 2014

Conscious uncoupling


It was with some sadness that I read that yet another high profile couple were separating particularly when, as is so often the way, there are children involved. Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin had been together for 10 years but have recently announced their split.

It was refreshing, however, to see, certainly in the initial communications from Gwyneth, that she was focusing on the children, saying that she hoped that whilst “consciously uncoupling” she and Chris could nevertheless “co parent”.

There is no mention as yet of a divorce, although as time goes on that may be the way that this relationship ends, like some 42% of all marriages in the UK. The question is then whether Gwyneth and Chris can remain amicable and continue to prioritise the children going forwards. I would suggest that this, to some extent, will depend on who they each go to see to take legal advice.

Contrary to the widely held belief that solicitors are all contentious and adversarial, there are in fact some solicitors, myself included, who have made the decision to deal with family cases in a much more constructive way. I am a Collaborative Lawyer, which means that I can offer separating couples a different approach to this difficult, emotive period of their life.

The Collaborative approach means that rather than dealing through solicitors, the parties work with their solicitors to reach the best solution for them and their family. Instead of letter after letter passing between solicitors the alternative process means you and your partner sit down together in the same room and with the help of your Collaborative lawyers you work it out face-to-face. This means both parties are spared having to go to Court.

The Collaborative process isn’t suitable for everyone. Both parties must be committed to it and have a genuine desire to make it work They are required to sign an agreement not to go to Court, and if the process breaks down both parties would have to instruct alternative solicitors.

For many, however, the Collaborative approach provides the way forward that they are seeking for themselves and their children, at what is a very difficult time in their lives.

The Collaborative process can deal with all aspect of a relationship breakdown whether children or finances (who knows Gwyneth and Chris may have a pre-nuptial Agreement in respect of the latter). In either event, if separating parents do want to continue to be able to co parent and try to maintain good relations for the benefit of the children then perhaps Collaborative is the way forwards for them.

To find out more about the Collaborative process please contact Sandy Edwards on 01743 453689 or email [email protected].



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