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The First Steps to “Consciously Uncoupling”

There’s been much ado over Gwyneth Paltrow’s use of the term “conscious uncoupling” in announcing her separation from Chris Martin, but we must admit, we sort of like it.

The phrase itself is borrowed from Katherine Woodward Thomas, a psychotherapist who spends 50 minutes describing it as “a proven process for lovingly completing a relationship that will leave you feeling whole and healed and at peace” in this clip. On her website, Paltrow links to an essay from Dr. Habib Sadeghi and Dr. Sherry Sami, which takes the idea of a holistic break-up one step further by suggesting skyrocketing divorce rates are a result of modern man’s increased life expectancy and the very concept of “death do us part” needs to be revised. The gist of this whole theory is that ending a relationship shouldn’t be a blame-game, but rather an acknowledgement of two people discovering different paths in their life journeys.

On the one hand, yes, “conscious uncoupling” seems to involve a lot of spiritual mumbo-jumbo (This is an actual sentence from Sadeghi and Sami’s essay: “If we can allow ourselves this gift, our exoskeleton of protection and imprisonment will fall away and offer us the opportunity to begin constructing an endoskeleton, an internal cathedral, with spiritual trace minerals like self-love, self-acceptance, and self-forgiveness.” Um, okay”¦), but there is something to be said for maturely side-stepping the culpability that inevitably spews out at the end of a relationship.

If the notion of “conscious uncoupling” intrigues you, there are still a few immediate steps you’ll need to take to handle the practicalities of divorce (if only we could all jet off to the Bahamas!):

1. Google Everything. There are a slew of divorce terms (maintenance, mediation, final orders, etc.) that you’re likely unfamiliar with, so begin preparing yourself for some of the things you’re bound to run into. We’ve covered many of the basics on our blog, but check out our Twitter and Facebook pages for additional resources as well.

2. Create a list of your debts and assets; don’t forget wills, trusts, credit card bills, tax returns, and mortgage statements. A snapshot of your finances on the date of separation will make things a lot easier when you delve into the particulars with your lawyer later on.

3. Open new checking and savings accounts in your name, and apply for a personal credit card as soon as possible. Colorado is an equitable division state, meaning property is not automatically split 50/50; don’t assume, therefore, that you are entitled to half of what’s available in any joint accounts. That being said, do withdraw half if you suspect your spouse may try to deplete the account””just don’t spend it quite yet.

4. Determine who gets to sleep in (not keep) the marital home for the time being, and work out a temporary child-custody plan. Paltrow’s parenting methods may have been the catalyst that spurred this “conscious uncoupling” in the first place, but that hasn’t stopped Martin from remaining committed to his children. At this point in particular, it’s crucial that parents maintain””or even increase””involvement in their children’s lives, both for their sake and also because it may influence the permanent custody arrangement to come.

5. Hire a great divorce lawyer. There’s only so far a commitment to separating consciously can go, so make sure you’ve also got someone in your corner to properly tackle all the legal matters.

Now go build your internal cathedral.