Conscious Uncoupling: Useful Tools for Divorcing Couples

The shocking realization that your marriage is ending often elicits understandable rage and sadness. You can stay angry or you can start to move forward. People do have choices, and the 2015 bestseller, Conscious Uncoupling: Five Steps to Living Happily Even After, by marriage and family therapist Katherine Woodward Thomas, offers both useful life perspectives and practical tools for moving forward.  These perspectives and tools help divorcing couples to better manage the many inevitable conflicts during divorce, so they can make better decisions for themselves and their children, and then move forward with their lives more quickly and productively. 

The book’s jacket notes provide a good summary:

“Sometimes, for many reasons, relationships come undone; they don’t work out. Commonly, we view this as a personal failure rather than an opportunity. And instead of honoring what we once meant to each other, we hoard bitterness and anger, stewing in shame and resentment-sometimes even lashing out in destructive and hurtful ways, despite the fact that we’re good people at heart. That’s natural: we’re almost biologically primed to respond this way.

Yet there is another path to the end of a relationship — one filled with mutual respect, kindness, and deep caring. Katherine Woodward Thomas’s groundbreaking method, Conscious Uncoupling, provides the valuable skills and tools for you to travel this challenging terrain with these five thoughtful and thought-provoking steps:

Step 1: Find Emotional Freedom

Step 2: Reclaim Your Power and Your Life

Step 3: Break the Pattern, Heal Your Heart

Step 4: Become a Love Alchemist

Step 5: Create Your Happily-Even-After Life

This paradigm-shifting guide will steer you away from a bitter end toward a new life that’s empowered and flourishing.”

In addition to the book, the author offers a series of Internet-based courses for people who wish to uncouple consciously with new-found emotional strength.

What Kinds of Alimony Are Available Under Tennessee Law?

There are numerous types of alimony available under Tennessee law:

  • Rehabilitative Alimony, where it is meant to help the recipient become self-supporting to the level of the life style of the marriage, if possible.
  • In Futuro Alimony (also known as “periodic alimony),  which is long-term and where rehabilitation is not feasible.
  • Transitional Alimony, where, during the divorce, some assistance is needed but rehabilitation is not needed.
  • In solido Alimony, where a lump sum amount is paid, either all at once or in installments. This is meant for such things as attorneys’ fees or for training or educational costs.

These different types of alimony can also be combined, as needed.

If you are planning to use the Collaborative Divorce process or Divorce Mediation to reach agreement on the terms of your divorce, then you and your spouse will be in charge of the decisions affecting alimony and all other terms of your divorce.

If one spouse has been on the other’s health insurance plan you may also need to discuss the health insurance needs of the parties and who is going to provide or pay for this.

Leaving these kinds of decisions up to the court to decide, as in traditional litigated divorce, makes it hard to predict the outcome, since each case is unique and judges have tremendous discretion when it comes to alimony amount and duration.

Please see more information on these two leading alternatives to divorce at Collaborative Divorce and Divorce Mediation.

How is Alimony Determined in Tennessee?

Unlike property division, alimony concerns “cash flow” from one spouse to the other, mainly for the purpose of reasonably approximating the standard of living enjoyed during the marriage. Tennessee does not have an alimony formula, unlike in the case of child support. And unlike child support, alimony is taxable income to the recipient, and a tax deduction for the payer. The question to ask is: does one spouse have the need for alimony and does the other spouse have the ability to pay alimony?

There are factors to be considered when determining alimony: the length of the marriage, whether minor children are still at home, the age and health of the recipient, and the property awarded, among other factors. People are expected to create realistic budgets from which to determine need and ability to pay alimony.