Conscious uncoupling: ending a marriage without acrimony

As divorce law is set to be reformed to remove blame, we look at a modern way for couples to separate.

The term conscious uncoupling refers to the ending of a relationship in a positive way. Instead of acrimony, the intention is that both parties will go on to better and happier futures separately, but will remain amicable and, where there are children involved, will co-parent them without animosity.

Current divorce law

At present, there are five grounds and steps to process conscious completions:

  • Adultery
  • Unreasonable behaviour
  • Desertion
  • Two years’ separation (by consent)
  • Five years’ separation

For those who do not want to wait long term, the only way to proceed with a divorce is by claiming adultery or unreasonable behaviour through legal services, both of which apportion blame.

This adds to the emotional stress of a separation, making things harder and more acrimonious. Nuffield Foundation figures found that 70 percent of divorcing couples said that citing fault made the process more bitter and 21 percent said it made it harder to sort out arrangements for the children.

If one party does not agree to the divorce and there has been neither adultery nor unreasonable behaviour, then the other party must wait five years before they can ask the court to grant them a decree nisi.

Reform of divorce law

In April 2019 the government announced its intention to reform the law to allow no-fault divorce. This acknowledges the fact that people may choose to separate without anyone being to blame.

It is proposed to allow divorce on the grounds of irretrievable breakdown of a relationship, remove the possibility of contesting the divorce and introduce the option of a couple making a joint application.

Amicable separation

It is intended that the new divorce law will allow couples to focus on important issues such as children, property and finance.

Conscious uncoupling processes focus on finding the positive in the situation and focus on steps to living happily, where partners are no longer together but are not using their energy in hating or undermining each other.

As well as being healthier for the adults involved, it is undoubtedly far better for any children of a relationship to see their parents behaving amicably.

If you would like to speak to an expert at our family law firm Solicitors in Wokingham about divorce or children matters, ring us on 0345 2413100 or email us at

Meet Marianne Tyndall

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