The new trend of “conscious uncoupling”. When actress Gwyneth Paltrow announced her split from Coldplay frontman Chris Martin this past spring, the term “conscious uncoupling” came onto the radar of many Americans. Instead of getting divorced, Paltrow claimed that she and Martin would continue living together and co-parenting their two children; however the two were consciously uncoupling and were ending their marriage. Since then, media has covered other couples who opted to take this less traditional separation path by deciding to continue living together and raising their kids, but to no longer be romantic partners. One San Francisco couple even held an uncoupling ceremony in front of family and friends, during which they gave back their wedding rings but then returned to the home they still share together.
This new trend of separating has led many people to wonder about the legal effects of uncoupling. First, holding an uncoupling ceremony or announcing that you are uncoupling does not, in any way, legally end your marriage. If you were properly married with a valid marriage license and ceremony, your marriage will continue to exist until a California family court officially grants dissolution of your marriage.
If uncoupling does not end your marriage, why are many couples opting for this non-traditional path? While each couple likely has their own individual reasons for this choice, many cite avoiding the stress, time, and money involved in a traditional divorce, and protecting the children from such conflict. These non-couples continue to maintain joint assets, share in child-rearing costs and responsibilities, and live together under the same roof, all while even dating other people.
While conscious uncoupling may work for some couples, there are some legal difficulties that can arise down the line. For example, if one spouse gets particularly serious with another romantic partner and wishes to get married, they will not be able to lawfully do so until a divorce is petitioned and finalized. Uncoupled couples are still legally married in every sense, and this marriage prohibits remarriage to another person.
When it does come time for a legal divorce, however, couples who successfully consciously uncouple may achieve a more amicable and collaborative divorce because they continued to live together, and usually maintained respect for one another and for the best interests of their family. Such divorces can usually be resolved much quicker and at significantly less cost than an acrimonious divorce.
It is uncertain whether conscious uncoupling will become a more common occurrence among married couples. Couples who wish to try this arrangement should always consult with an attorney to discuss all legal implications of their plan prior to deciding against traditional divorce.
Contact an Experienced Family Law Attorney for Help Today
If you have any questions regarding marriage, divorce, child custody, or any other family-related legal matter, please do not hesitate to call the Santa Rosa office of Beck Law P.C. for assistance. We know how to help with a wide range of domestic issues, including helping individuals and couples in unique sets of circumstances. Please contact us today to discuss your case.