More and more high-profile couples are announcing their divorces with a simple statement that they are calling it quits and consciously uncoupling. When the details surface, they are bland and uninteresting. How is that possible when the mavens of social media dig up dirt on everyone and publish it online immediately?
The answer is that more and more public personalities are opting for a collaborative divorce that insures complete privacy. By choosing an amicable collaborative divorce, these couples avoid the publicity of a litigated divorce and move beyond animosity to cooperation and effective co-parenting.
What is Conscious Uncoupling?
The label conscious uncoupling was developed around 2011 by Katherine Thomas, and was popularized by Gwyneth Paltrow when she and Chris Martin announced their divorce in 2014. Thomas defined conscious uncoupling as a kinder, gentler way to untie the knot. The goal of conscious uncoupling and the collaborative process is to separate amicably and maintain a good relationship so you can effectively co-parent your children once the divorce is finished.
Conscious Uncoupling and Collaborative Divorce
There are many similarities between conscious uncoupling and collaborative divorce. Conscious uncoupling involves a five-step program of finding emotional freedom, gaining control of your life, breaking destructive patterns, learning to love again, and creating a new life for yourself. These five steps are similar to the expectations of conduct integral to the collaborative process. The collaborative process expects clients to focus on the future, avoid assigning blame, be courteous and patient with each other, and recognize that arguing is pointless. The goal of a collaborative divorce is to teach clients to communicate effectively so they can be good co-parents after the divorce. Jeff and MacKenzie Bezos consciously uncoupled in 2019 to avoid a costly litigated divorce costing millions of dollars. They negotiated an amicable settlement that allowed Jeff to retain control of Amazon and awarded MacKenzie a substantial separate estate.
How Do They Do It?
The beauty of conscious uncoupling/collaborative divorce is that the process is confidential, so no dirty details are revealed. Collaborative divorce experts speculate that many conscious uncouplers are opting for the collaborative process, allowing them to resolve their marital issues in a cooperative, efficient, and cost-effective way rather than fighting for years in a court of law. A collaborative divorce avoids formal discovery, court hearings, and contentious court fights and allows a couple to resolve their disputes themselves rather than turning their futures over to a judge or jury.
Benefits of a Collaborative Divorce
Why do high-profile couples opt for a collaborative divorce rather than litigation? Because the collaborative process offers many benefits, including privacy, lower cost, transparency, client control, convenience, preserving family relationships, protecting children, allowing creative settlement solutions and minimizing post-divorce conflicts. Most people find these benefits compelling. Everything that happens during a collaborative divorce is confidential and the cost of a collaborative divorce is lower than the cost of a litigated divorce, especially with a marital estate in the billions of dollars. Participants in the collaborative process voluntarily produce all relevant financial and family information so they avoid expensive discovery fights. Issues are settled through interest-based negotiation so clients control the outcome. The collaborative process teaches divorcing couples how to communicate effectively. Children are never put in the middle of a collaborative divorce so the couple is able to co-parent effectively after the divorce.
The Collaborative Divorce Process
During a collaborative divorce, two attorneys, a financial professional, and a mental health professional manage the process. The clients agree to collaborate and share their goals and interests. The mental health professional chairs the joint meetings and the financial professional collects and analyzes financial information and helps the parties understand their marital estate. The collaborative team and clients identify issues, create settlement options, and negotiate a collaborative settlement agreement that meets the important goals and interests of both parties. Following settlement, the attorneys jointly draft the Divorce Decree and Agreement Incident to Divorce. One attorney and his or her client prove-up the divorce before a judge.
In a collaborative divorce the parties control the outcome, all information is shared openly, the children are kept out of the divorce process, and a collaborative divorce costs less compared with a litigated divorce. In a litigated divorce, the attorneys control the case, your goals and interests are secondary, information is hidden, each side attempts to win, the children may be put in the middle of their parent’s divorce, and litigation costs more than a collaborative divorce. A collaborative divorce is much better than litigation because it allows win-win negotiations rather than win-lose court fights. However, a collaborative divorce is not appropriate for every couple. If the parties can’t compromise, are extremely angry at each other, and want their day in court, litigation is usually a better option. However, if you want a smooth, efficient, cost-effective divorce, you should explore the collaborative process with a competent collaborative divorce attorney.