An Amicable Divorce is Possible: Tips for Working it Out
More often than ever before, couples who no longer want to be together are working toward an amicable divorce. With such famous examples as Demi Moore, Ashton Kutcher, and Bruce Willis’s blended family and Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin’s “conscious uncoupling,” couples are realizing that the divorce process does not have to be an angry or bitter one. They want out of the marriage and do not want a “divorce from hell”.
It’s true that this is much easier said than done. After all, happy couples don’t separate in the first place. However, in many situations, couples find that, while they still care about each other, they’re no longer in love and want to move on. Even if there is some tension in the relationship, it’s perfectly possible to have an amicable divorce. In fact, 74% of respondents to a recent survey believe they would be able to divorce without contention. With an open mind and some good advice, you can get through your divorce with a minimum of pain both in terms of “emotional pain” and “financial pain”.
Tips for an Amicable Divorce
First of all, it’s extremely important to go through the entire process in good faith. You can’t expect your spouse to be completely forthcoming if you’re not willing to do the same. Both parties need to be completely open and honest in order to accomplish your goal of an amicable divorce. Here are some ways to make that easier:
- Counselling: Asking a neutral third party for help is always a smart thing to do, no matter what the circumstances of your divorce might be. Talking things through with someone who doesn’t have a personal stake in the matter is immensely helpful.
- Focus on the future: Keep in mind that what you’re going through right now is only temporary and a means to an end. Keep your eyes on the prize – which, of course, is a successful divorce with everyone remaining on good terms.
- Educate yourself: Make sure you know how the entire procedure works, from beginning to end. Learn the different options for an amicable divorce, including mediation and collaboration. Our website has many articles that will help you. GalbraithFamilyLaw.com
- Be prepared: Gather up all your financial documents and cooperate fully with your spouse when it comes to disclosing assets and liabilities. This is often one of the biggest obstacles to finalizing a divorce, so complete cooperation will help make the process easier and more affordable.
- Be clear: Decide on what you want in terms of asset division and custody arrangements, and communicate your preferences as clearly as possible. Also be open minded and willing to consider your spouse’s priorities and goals. To reach and amicable agreement, both parties need to feel that their priorities have been taken into consideration.
- Provide options: There will be some areas where you want to stand firm, but try to be as flexible as possible with other things. Also, you might be surprised at how many items in the house clearly belong to one spouse or the other and don’t need to be disputed. Don’t pick fights over things you don’t truly care about. Don’t sweat the little things. In five years, you won’t even remember what you were fighting about.
- Act in good faith: Don’t hide assets or under-report your income. You and your spouse have to be able to trust one another in order to navigate the separation and divorce process amicably. Furthermore, if you are hiding assets or income, any agreement you reach could be set aside and then you’ll have to start over but this time with less goodwill. It will likely become a big court battle.
An Amicable Divorce is Necessary When Children are Involved
If you have children, the most important thing is to put them first. Take some extra time to think through your actions and decisions and how they will affect the kids’ well-being. Use the Department of Justice’s Best Interests of the Child checklist to make sure you haven’t overlooked anything.
A vital thing to understand is that any tension caused by unresolved issues is going to affect children negatively. Even if you don’t discuss the problems with them directly, kids can tell when their parents are unhappy and it can definitely have a negative impact on them. Above all, avoid laying blame on your spouse when talking about the divorce with your children, no matter how old they are. This puts them in a terrible and unfair position and may make them feel as if they have to choose between their parents.
Do not talk to your children about the reasons for the divorce. It is not their business and they do not need to get in the middle of your separation and divorce.
To make this as easy as possible on your kids, be prepared to cooperate with your spouse. You can definitely advocate for your own preferences, but keep an open mind, since your spouse may have an even better idea. Look at how your family operates best and try to keep things as consistent as possible. Children need consistency and predictability in any arrangement you develop. Additionally, share major decisions with your children once they’ve been made, so that they know what to expect. If both parents can share the parenting plan with the children together, it is best.
What is a Simple, Uncontested Divorce?
So you’ve decided you want to divorce as amicably as possible – what exactly does that look like, and what options are available to you?
An uncontested divorce is possible when couples can mutually agree on the specifics of the divorce, including matters such as asset division, monetary support, and custody and visitation rights. When you and your spouse can come to a final decision on your own, a court appearance won’t be necessary, making the whole process exponentially easier and cheaper.
Besides the monetary cost, the emotional cost of an uncontested divorce is also much lower. When you can avoid a court battle, you also avoid the bitterness and sadness that comes with it. Staying on good terms with your former spouse, even if it means compromising in order to get along, has an enormous payoff in time, money, and the emotional health of your entire family.
Final Tips for an Amicable Divorce
Remember that no matter which spouse initially asked for the divorce, it’s a painful process for everyone. Dismantling the life you’ve built together is never easy, even when you both agree that it’s time to move on and create new lives.
Some couples are able to resolve the issues on their own. We call this a kitchen table agreement. We then draft a separation agreement for them which is legally binding. Some couples need more help. Mediation and Collaborative Practice are two processes that help couples separate amicably. Here is an explanation of the process choices.
You and your spouse can alleviate some of the pain and distress by making a concentrated effort to treat each other well. Always act in good faith and don’t try to deceive or hide anything from your spouse, or you’ll end up undermining the whole process. As long as both of you are entirely honest and forthcoming, and make an effort to be as polite as possible to each other, you can navigate your divorce quickly and amicably. It won’t necessarily be easy or painless, but as long as both of you are willing to make the effort, you could be sharing your #divorceselfies in no time.
Galbraith Family Law Assists with Amicable Divorces
Even when you and your spouse are on the same page regarding the terms of your divorce, you’ll still need a lawyer to guide you through the process and to finalize the terms of agreement into a legally binding separation agreement. The lawyers at Galbraith Family Law have plenty of experience with amicable divorces and will be happy to help you finalize the details of dissolving your marriage. To contact us, call our Newmarket office at (289) 319-0634 or our Barrie office at (705) 727-4242. You can also send a message through the contact form on our website. We look forward to hearing from you!