Even in cases where it’s ultimately for the best, it’s sad when a marriage ends. It’s even sadder when individuals who previously loved one another and shared their lives together are pitted against each other to battle it out in court. Getting divorced, however, doesn’t have to be an ugly, painful and contentious process.

Long before actress Gwyneth Paltrow announced that she and husband musician Chris Martin were “consciously uncoupling”, spouses across the country have been civilly divorcing for decades through the collaborative divorce process.

Remaining on good terms with an ex-spouse is particularly important when children are involved. In a traditional divorce, both spouses retain divorce attorneys who then negotiate the terms of a divorce settlement. The problem with a traditional divorce, however, is that important information can be misinterpreted and easily misconstrued when translated into legalese.

In a collaborative divorce, each spouse still retains a divorce attorney who can answer questions, provide advice and help in the negotiation process. The difference is that exes have the opportunity to sit down together with a professional mediator to discuss and sort out important matters related to child custody and the division of assets and property.

In order to be successful, a collaborative divorce requires the willingness and commitment of both individuals to peaceably discuss and try to resolve divorce issues. In most cases, couples that opt for a collaborative divorce are already acutely aware of the fact that they are forever tied to one another through their children and it’s in the best interest of everyone involved to get along.

Source: New York Post, ” Divorcing couples follow Gwyneth’s lead and ‘consciously uncouple’,” Kate Storey, May 27, 2014