Removing the stigma around divorce and how to minimise potential conflict

Laura Sinclair


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May 18, 2021

Categories Family Law

Lockdown has been the catalyst for many relationship breakdowns during the pandemic with Citizens Advice in the UK recording that divorce guidance searches have risen since April 2020 by 25% compared to the same date in 2019.

And, positively, the latest announcement from billionaire couple, Bill and Melinda Gates, who jointly tweeted “we no longer believe we can grow together as a couple”, has arguably helped remove some of the stigma surrounding the idea of divorce.

Married for 27 years, with three children and a combined wealth of more than $100bn, the pair tweeted earlier this month, “After a great deal of thought and a lot of work on our relationship, we have made the decision to end our marriage”. Promising to keep working together, the Gates demonstrate that their decision to divorce shouldn’t be regarded as a marriage ‘failure’ or something that might attract guilt or shame, but rather simply a decision to move on independently with their lives.

Like Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin who announced in 2016, after 13 years of marriage and two children together, that they were “consciously uncoupling”, celebrity divorce announcements are increasingly putting a positive, respectful spin on a couple’s choice to separate and begin afresh.

Adele and her former husband, Simon Konecki, are another couple who demonstrated a constructive approach to resolving their marriage breakdown. They announced their separation in 2019, saying they were “committed to raising their son together lovingly” and are now said to have reached a shared care arrangement, which must only be a good thing for all concerned.

They are also said to have reached a settlement in relation to their finances through private mediation, wanting to avoid a ‘Hollywood style’ split that could’ve dragged on for months and months, potentially years, given that it was reported there was no pre-nuptial agreement in relation to Adele’s £140million fortune.


Mediation is just one of the ways of dealing amicably with the issues arising from a divorce or separation and can often lead to issues relating to both finances and children being resolved more swiftly and less expensively than traditional court based options. Mediation involves the parties themselves in discussions about the issues in the presence of a third party, the mediator, with a view to a satisfactory settlement for both of them then being reached.

Collaborative law

Another option is collaborative law which allows the parties to take control of the issues, working as a team with lawyers to find solutions to the financial/divorce related issues that invariably arise. Very little correspondence is sent and instead, there are a series of meetings where all legal advice will be given in front of one another. The thinking behind this, fairly novel, yet very successful, process is that it assists parties to separate in an amicable, dignified and much less acrimonious manner which can be invaluable to the wider family.

Also worth mentioning, in the context of avoiding acrimonious splits – not only in the case of wealthy celebrity divorces but also in relation to couples with more modest asset bases – is the value of a well-drawn up prenuptial or living together agreement. At the outset, these types of documents can help minimise and potentially avoid all conflict during a subsequent divorce or separation because the division of assets has already been agreed. Signing a prenup doesn’t mean that you are anticipating a divorce. Instead, with divorce rates on the rise and people getting married later, you’re simply being prudent and looking after everyone’s best interests.

At Furley Page we are all Resolution members meaning we adhere to a Code of Practice which promotes a constructive approach to the resolution of family matters, and in addition we have trained collaborative lawyers who can assist in resolving those issues in an amicable and dignified manner.

For further information, contact Laura Sinclair or a member of our family law team on 01227 763939.