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Family mediation: starting the divorce off on the right foot

Fans of Gwyneth Paltrow and Coldplay's have likely heard that Paltrow and Coldplay's lead singer, Chris Martin, have ended their marriage. Even those in Calgary who aren't fans may have heard about Paltrow's reference to "conscious uncoupling." While she received some flack for what seemed to be a pretentious way of describing her amicable divorce, she called attention to a practice that has been gaining significant traction: family mediation.

And it is not just Americans and Brits that are using divorce mediation to end their marriages. As we mentioned in a previous post about the evolution of divorce and collaborative law in Canada, marriages need not always end acrimoniously.

Many people who commit to ending their marriages amicably do so because of concern for their children. While separation is always disruptive for children, seeing conflict between their parents causes far more damage.  With more and more people sharing custody of their children following divorce, many parents recognize the importance of working past their differences in order to put their children's needs first.  Unlike mediation, litigation rarely assists in achieving that goal.

It is important to make a clarifying point: amicable divorces do not mean that former spouses must be friends following their divorces, only that they are willing to work together to do what is best for their children in a peaceful manner. 

At the same time, many couples recognize that although they are no longer romantically in love with a spouse, they can remain remain friends. Remaining friends following a divorce is not necessarily a goal of family mediation but it is often a pleasant and unexpected outcome. Ultimately, regardless of why a couple wishes to remain amicable after a divorce, resolution of family disputes by mediation or the collaborative model are the best ways to do so.

Source: New York Post, "Ordinary folk take Gwyneth's lead to 'consciously uncouple'," Kate Storey, May 27, 2014

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