You would have needed to go to some effort to avoid the phrase this week, after being propagated throughout the world following the high-profile separation of Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin.
But what does it mean? And, more importantly, how does it affect Australian relationships and families?
Ms Paltrow’s blog posting (respectfully co-signed by Mr Martin) which coined the term is being touted as one of the most eloquent, dignified and civil announcements within the often rancorous world of high profile celebrity separation. Indeed, “conscious uncoupling” refers to the process by which two persons in a domestic relationship do exactly that; they systematically wind down their relationship cognisant of each party’s wants, needs, and feelings. It cannot be stressed enough how important this is when there are children involved, as there are in the Paltrow Martin family.
Back home, this method of separation comes close to crystallising the crux of our Family Law Act, namely that the best interests of the child are of paramount consideration. In Australia, the only ground for divorce is that the marriage has broken down irretrievably (which is established by 12 months of separation). This substantially means that Australia has a ‘no fault’ divorce system, and greatly operates to reduce acrimony amongst separating couples and families at a difficult time.
“Conscious uncoupling” is also relevant when it comes to property settlement. Edwards Family Lawyers encourages dispute resolution processes such as mediation. At Edwards Family Lawyers we regard our role in the separation process as being to assist people to reach an amicable, quick and cost effective settlement of all issues. Edwards Family Lawyers aim is to avoid litigation which is costly both (financially and emotionally) and to reach a negotiated settlement.