Celebrities Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin continued their show of unity this week following news of their separation, with reports that the ex-couple were looking happy and relaxed together at Robert Downey Jnr’s birthday party.
Latest gossip even suggests the couple may still live together, in separate wings of the same house, so they can continue jointly raising their children.
While few of us could afford a home large enough to follow Paltrow and Martin’s lead, their approach to separation is something more of us could aspire to says Naomi Hayward, a solicitor at leading law firm Furley Page.
“The phrasing of their recent announcement to ‘consciously uncouple’ came in for a lot of ridicule,” says Naomi, “but if you ignore the jargon and Hollywood nonsense, it could actually encourage other couples to seek a ‘mature’ settlement from the outset rather than the all too common protracted arguments and recriminations.
“An amicable and civilised agreement is surely best for both parties when any relationship breaks down.
“Facing a separation can be one of the most difficult times of a person’s life. It can be full of challenging decisions and high emotions, particularly when children are involved,” says Naomi, a member of Furley Page’s family law team.
“However, if separating partners are able to agree right from the start about financial matters and the arrangements for the children then this could avoid the stress, animosity and expense of a stereotypical divorce.”
Announcing the end of their 10-year marriage last month, Paltrow and Martin said: “We have always conducted our relationship privately, and we hope that as we consciously uncouple and co-parent, we will be able to continue in the same manner.”
Naomi, a specialist in family breakdowns and children’s matters, says: “They appear to be largely focused on the children, which is also the Court’s approach in the UK. It also indicates that they are committed to reaching an agreement rather than resolving matters through the Court system.”
One way to ‘consciously uncouple’ is to agree with your ex-partner at the outset of your separation that you will try to reach an agreement through mediation. This involves the couple having several meetings with an independent and impartial mediator in an attempt to reach agreement in an amicable environment.
Naomi says: “An alternative is to use the collaborative law process where both parties indicate their commitment to resolve their issues out of court and then meet face-to-face, along with collaboratively trained lawyers, to come to an agreement.
“As family law in general encourages couples to explore these alternative methods of resolving issues following a separation, more couples could perhaps aspire to and achieve a ‘conscious uncoupling’ like the A-list celebrities.”
For further information on the legal issues surrounding separation and family breakdown, contact Naomi Hayward on 01227 763939.
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