Conscious uncoupling – can I divorce amicably through mediation?
When Gwyneth Paltrow announced that she and Chris Martin would be ‘consciously uncoupling’ on her website Goop, in March 2014, the news was met with widespread ridicule and contempt. This announcement seemed to be in tandem with other outlandish claims put out on Goop, Paltrow’s lifestyle brand website.
However, other separating couples may discover that there is in fact wisdom in Paltrow’s approach, given the obvious practical benefits to a settlement based on communication and co-operation rather than the imposition of an order made by a Judge.
Our court system has arguably not adapted to the changing wants and needs of those who use it in relation to this area of law. Maybe this is an impossible task in any event given the very personal and emotive nature of what is involved in dealing with these sort of proceedings. In addition, where children are involved the parties are going to have to find some way of communicating with one another in a reasonable fashion for the duration of the child’s minority and beyond. It naturally follows that a courtroom environment where parents are pitched as adversaries rather than partners on a subject as important as the care of their children does not facilitate the best outcome.
This is even more relevant given that more parents are now seeking to play an equal role in their children’s lives and the once accepted tradition of women taking on the role of primary carer is becoming increasingly unusual.
Divorcing and separating parents will find that co-parenting is in fact almost entirely dependant on being able to sort out issues on a case by case basis. Childcare based disputes do not end when a Judge makes an order, you may find that you have up to another eighteen years of them.
Whilst our court system remains relatively unchanged, different techniques that are more applicable to the modern arrangements that people seek post separation have developed and mediation is most certainly one of these.
Mediation could be said to be a more evolved and sophisticated way of dealing with separation and divorce than heavy handed courtroom negotiations. Fundamentally it allows the parties to decide their own fate and in doing so, gives them a framework for future positive communication, which is invaluable for separated parents raising their children.
Calmly, rationally talking things through, independent of a Judge's legally imposed ruling is therefore a skill that will aid you far beyond the context of a separation or divorce. Maybe not of concern to the likes of Paltrow and Martin, a mediated agreement may also save you a handsome amount in legal fees.