Conscious Uncoupling

When Gwyneth Paltrow announced to the world that she and Chris Martin would be “consciously uncoupling” back in 2014, most people had never heard of the phrase. The idea was defined in 1990 by author Diane Vaughan and the aim is to focus on how to separate amicably keeping mutual respect and remembering the needs of any children involved.

This is a focus which would be of benefit in most family breakdowns. Today (23.11.2015) Resolution has launched a nationwide campaign “Family Dispute Resolution Week”, which focuses on how to resolve family disputes in a way which focuses on the needs of the children. Resolution is an organisation of family lawyers and other professionals in England and Wales who believe in a constructive, non-confrontational approach to family law disputes with the focus being on protecting the children from the situation as far as possible.

Divorce and separation are emotional and difficult events and they can be even harder when there are children involved. One of the biggest worries for parents is likely to be about the children, where they will live, how things will change and how both parents can continue to play an important role in their lives.

Sometimes parents can work through the issues themselves, and there are useful tools on the internet to support parents such as the Cafcass Parenting Plan which can be accessed through Mediation can also be of assistance and focuses on parents reaching agreements that are in the best interests of the children, but sometimes parents can find it hard to agree on what the best way forward is for the children. Seeking legal advice from a solicitor may be the next step.

Families come in all shapes and sizes and different issues are important to different families, there is “no one size that fits all” approach. What ever is happening between the adults, the children need to be protected as far as possible and to understand that while their parents’ feelings for each other may have changed, the children are still loved by each of them. Children need to know and understand that they still have two parents who they have a right to love and spend time with and importantly that none of what has happened is their fault.

It is also important for parents to understand that even though their relationship has ended, their role as parents has not. The two most important people in a child’s life are usually their parents and it can be devastating for a child when these to people are in conflict.  Parents should be conscious of avoiding conversations that encourage conflict, particularly in front of the children and should talk about the other parent respectfully to the children. It can be very hard when dealing with two households and difficult relationships, but parents must try to do this for the sake of their children.

There is useful guidance on the Resolution website at under the “advice for parents” section regarding how to tell children about separation or divorce and how to mange relationship and plan life after this event has occurred.

At Wolferstans all our family lawyers are members of Resolution and we can assist you with trying to negotiate arrangements for your children, including where they should live and how and they should spend time with each parent in a child focused way. If an agreement cannot be reached we can advise and assist you regarding all the options available to you. For more information please call Dawn Perrins on 01752 292364, email

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