The breakdown of one of Hollywood’s most admired marriages may come as a shock but what is most striking about the announcement that Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin are to separate is their declaration that they are still, and always will be, a family.

In a joint statement explaining their decision to separate, they describe their future relationship as one in which they intend to “consciously uncouple” – a much gentler and more respectful concept than the more commonly used phrase ‘we’re splitting up’.

Separating couples, and their children, typically experience a range of painful and difficult emotions as they come to terms with the breakdown of a relationship. Celebrity families are no different. Despite this, and their admission of great sadness, Paltrow and Martin have been admirably clear about their role as “parents first and foremost”. They acknowledge that their future relationship will be as co-parents rather than as a couple. This commitment to parental team work will undoubtedly enable their children to adjust to their new situation far more successfully.

That they can do this at what must be one of the most difficult times for each and both of them, sets an example of how separation need not be such a damaging process – as is often portrayed in media accounts of celebrity divorces and, sadly, in how we can all stereotype the divorce experience as bitter or nasty in passing comment.

Conscious uncoupling at a personal level sits well with processes like Family Mediation and Collaborative Family Law – both respectful ways of resolving the legal, financial and practical issues that separating couples need to deal with. Our team of Resolution trained Collaborative Family Lawyers and Family Mediators help couples to make arrangements that meet the needs of the whole family and lay the foundations for a co-operative, co-parenting relationship in the future – something for which those fortunate children will be very grateful in years to come.

Couples who are separating, or considering separation, will benefit from our information meetings for couples, so that they can hear the same information at the same time from the same person.  This helps to avoid the misunderstandings that can happen when people seek initial advice from different lawyers, and enables couples to co-operate and take decisions together from the outset – very much in keeping with the conscious uncoupling approach to separation.