Gwyneth Paltrow & Chris Martin’s 2016 Divorce Changed Hollywood Splits

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Pop culture enthusiasts will probably mark 2023 as the year of the big A-list celebrity breakups that changed the face of Hollywood forever. If you talk to Laura Wasser, famed celebrity family law attorney at Wasser, Cooperman & Mandles, P.C. and the Chief of Divorce Evolution at Divorce.com, she marks a very different year as the game-changer for celebrity splits: 2014 with Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin‘s “conscious uncoupling.” 

To refresh your memory, Paltrow’s March 25, 2014, “Conscious Uncoupling” post on her Goop website broke the internet because few people had heard of such a term, and it had a very California new-age vibe to it at the time. “We have always conducted our relationship privately, and we hope that as we consciously uncouple and co-parent, we will be able to continue in the same manner,” they wrote in a statement. “Love, Gwyneth & Chris.” The phrase wasn’t new, having been coined by relationship coach Katherine Woodward Thomas in 2009, but the practice of ending a romantic relationship respectfully and compassionately was almost unheard of at the time. 

Angelina Jolie, San Diego, United States, 2019

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Kim Kardashian, Kevin Costner, and Angelina Jolie.

Kim Kardashian, Kevin Costner, and Angelina Jolie.
Gilbert Flores/Variety via Getty Images, Monica Schipper/GA/The Hollywood Reporter via Getty Images, Michael Buckner/Variety/Penske Media via Getty Images.

As the divorce attorney for some of the entertainment industry’s biggest stars (Think Kevin Costner, Kim Kardashian, and Angelina Jolie.), Wasser has seen it all over the years in her practice — but the wellness entrepreneur and the Coldplay frontman changed the game for everyone. She reveals to SheKnows that she “absolutely” witnessed celebs and other high-powered clients embrace the movement that was brought into the zeitgeist by Paltrow and Martin. The term even rolls right off the tongue in casual conversation now. 

“I’m coming up on 30 years doing this,” Wasser says. “It has changed… the way people approach divorce is a little bit less taboo. [There’s] a little bit less of, ‘Oh, I’ve had a failed marriage.’ It’s more about, ‘No, this is my next chapter and I’m moving on.’” She reminds anyone thinking of splitting with their spouse that there are often young ones to think about in the equation, too. “And particularly if you’ve got children, you’re going to know each other for the rest of your lives,” she notes, “Conscious uncoupling, or I think another one that I heard was ‘gracefully separating,’ makes more sense.”

NEW YORK, NY - JANUARY 09:  (EXCLUSIVE COVERAGE) Attorney Laura Wasser visits the SiriusXM Studios on January 9, 2020 in New York City.  (Photo by Cindy Ord/Getty Images)

Laura Wasser visits the SiriusXM Studios on January 9, 2020 in New York City.
Cindy Ord/Getty Images.

She even compliments the entertainment journalism industry for being “helpful” by showing “Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin going on vacation together or attending their kids’ birthday parties together.” Wasser says it helps “the normal people out there who read your magazines or your sites because we see, ‘Oh, they’re doing it the right way.’” It encourages people to find their own rhythm to consciously uncouple and “that’s been good for those of us in the family law industry because we obviously like seeing people get along.” 

In 2023 Instagram Story, Paltrow was quick to point out that she “did not coin the phrase,” but she was “proud” that her brave revelation changed the outcome for so many families almost a decade later — even though she and Martin took “quite a lot of s–t for it when announced it all those years ago.” She added, “I feel very proud that we were able to maybe make some divorces a little bit easier [or] happier. It makes me feel pretty proud when people come up to me on the streets and say, ‘Thank you for introducing that concept because I’ve become good friends with my ex.’ I’m very happy that we were able to play a small part in that cultural shift.”

Angelina Jolie, San Diego, United States, 2019

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Gwyneth Paltrow & Chris Martin's 2016 Divorce Changed Hollywood Splits

‘It Doesn’t Have to Be That Way’ by Laura Wasser

Wasser sees that impact in her practice and she’s thrilled because they love “seeing people raising their children in a peaceful coexistence.” She was honestly ahead of the conscious uncoupling curve because her 2013 book, It Doesn’t Have to Be That Way: How to Divorce Without Destroying Your Family or Bankrupting Yourself, emphasized the idea that “we can do it better now [because] in the long run, it’s better for everybody.” That’s why she’s also forecasting that the next trend in breakups will be strictly about “online divorce.”

“I mean, if you think about it, we date online, we shop online, we bank online,” she says. “Why would we not be divorcing online?” And that’s where Divorce.com comes into play, even though Wasser “makes money from people having complex, litigious divorce cases.” The site allows people “to log on, get information about the divorce process, the laws in your state, and have a sense of community with a shared experience by joining the chat rooms.” She believes the benefits “of a lower price” and “not engaging attorneys to get into a big expensive pissing contest” is a win for everyone.

And yes, she even believes some of her superstar clients might give online divorce a whirl in the future. Wasser also has the best idea for “all that money that’s left over” after using the services of Divorce.com. “You can spend on it massages, trips to wine country, a personal trainer,” she sums up. “Whatever you need to make yourself feel great about your next chapter.”

Before you go, click here to see the longest celebrity divorces that took years to get finalized.

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