Survey spurs launch of new family law service: 2Unify

Posted 22nd August 2021

Research recently conducted by Shoosmiths family law team revealed that 30% of couples living together rate relationship breakdown as one of life’s most stressful events – second only to serious illness – and yet alarmingly as many as 53% hadn’t made any arrangements to alleviate the impact in the event of separation.  

Worryingly, the survey further revealed that 65% of those surveyed still believed in the myth of common law husband and wife and 40% didn’t know what would happen to their assets if they were to separate. 23% of those who had recently separated felt that their settlement was unfair because it didn’t recognise their financial contribution and 30% didn’t feel it recognised their contribution to looking after the home and family.

The results from this research have spurred Shoosmiths family law team to launch their 2Unify service, offering legal expertise on nuptial and cohabitation agreements alongside relationship coaching.  This holistic approach is intended to help couples lay the foundations for a strong and secure relationship by addressing the practicalities of living together, whether that is starting a family, combining finances, thinking about career aspirations or blending two households.

Caroline Watson, head of Shoosmiths family law team who commissioned the research, said: “There is still a misconception that nuptial and cohabitation agreements are just for the super-rich and famous. With over 30% of marriages still ending in divorce I would urge couples to engage in relationship coaching to explore their feelings on a range of issues and to help give them the tools to navigate through difficult times ahead.  Coaching coupled with an agreement to specify how they will deal with financial and practical issues, from my experience, will only help to make the relationship stronger, and in the event of the worst happening it will reduce the stress, uncertainty and cost of having to unravel their affairs.”

In addition to legal advice from Shoosmiths award-winning family law team, 2Unify incorporates guidance from qualified coaches who work with couples in a safe, non-judgemental way. With the support of a neutral third party, couples may find it easier to discuss subjects that could otherwise be uncomfortable, or that they may not have considered. That could include topics such as:

  • relationship goals and aspirations
  • protecting the assets introduced at the start of the relationship
  • dealing with trust funds or other types of inheritance
  • ensuring family assets and heirlooms remain within the family
  • addressing practical arrangements for blending two families
  • care arrangements and financial provision for existing or future children as well as  arrangements for their education 
  • living arrangements for international families 
  • inheritance and estate planning

All of these considerations can be addressed legally, but the goal of coaching is to enable couples to enter into an agreement not only knowing what they are agreeing to, but also to understand how they truly feel about issues now and in the future. 

The coaching and counselling element of 2Unify is delivered by Caroline White-Robinson, head of Shoosmiths’ organisational and personal development team for the last fifteen years. 

Aside from impeccable professional qualifications and membership of the British Psychological Society, Caroline also has direct personal experience of the aftermath of relationship breakdown without any arrangements in place and so truly understands what couples may be going through. She explains: 

“My ex-husband told me on the way out to the honeymoon that he had made a mistake and that he shouldn’t have got married. I wish some of the fundamental conversations had taken place before we got married, then perhaps things might have been easier.” 

Caroline has since re-married, so also understands the stress of blended families and how the range of emotions, whichever side of the fence you sit on, can encompass hurt, guilt, anger, sadness, disappointment and frustration.

Caroline White-Robinson concluded: “Gaining a genuine insight and a real understanding of your feelings and motivation, as well as knowing your rights and how to protect your interests at the outset, doesn’t imply that the relationship is rocky. Our aim with 2Unify is to help couples make their relationships more secure and avoid messy, stressful arguments if things do go sour.”

If you’d like to know more about Shoosmiths 2Unify coaching, or you’d like advice on nuptial or cohabitation agreements, we would be happy to have an initial consultation by telephone and without charge or obligation to discuss how we can help.

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