On 15 October 2021, Adele released her first single in six years: ‘Easy on Me’ was streamed 12 million times within 12 hours of its release and will feature on her eagerly awaited fourth studio album.

But it was not so much the soaring vocal performance in Adele’s latest offering which caught my eye (or rather, ear). Instead, it was the candour with which she has recently spoken about her divorce, and how she remains close to her former husband and father to their eight-year-old son.

In a recent interview with US Vogue, Adele proclaimed “I’d trust him with my life”. They remain living on the same street in Los Angeles. 

This is welcome, refreshing and a situation which is not that unusual – it just doesn’t hit the headlines because it sells less papers.  Today’s media is saturated with stories of celebrity break-ups – we clamour for the latest gory details in the Brangelina custody battle – and so a famous figure suggesting that a relationship breakdown can be handled constructively, positively, and with a clear focus on the welfare of any children, is an important and much needed message.

It can be done, and there are mechanisms to help families wishing to explore separating without acrimony.  These include counselling and therapy, mediation (parties agree how to divide their assets and decide arrangements for their children with the support of a specially trained third party) and private court hearings and arbitrations (parties can agree on their tribunal and have their disputes resolved without the systemic delays of our courts, and away from the prying eyes of the press).

The ‘no fault’ divorce being introduced into English law next year will help. No longer will one of the couple have to shoulder the blame for the end of the marriage – both parties can simply acknowledge their relationship has irretrievably broken down, and get on with untangling their joint lives without that tricky process being poisoned at the outset by needless and unnecessary finger-pointing.

Of course, the Adele way is not always possible, and indeed the reason for the separation will be important.

Adele explained her reasons for wanting a divorce as “I wasn’t miserable miserable, but I would have been miserable had I not put myself first. But, yeah, nothing bad happened or anything like that.”

If something bad does happen, using Adele’s words, it would be unrealistic and undesirable to expect couples to separate in such a constructive manner.   Domestic abuse situations, for example, must be addressed properly and with support including from professionals. Other issues such as non-disclosure of assets may make litigation unavoidable.

But in the right circumstances, staying away from the courtroom may well be the best way forward for you, your ex and your children.