8 Tips for an Amicable Divorce

Divorce is commonly regarded as one of the most stressful experiences a person can experience as an adult. Going through a divorce is an emotionally challenging time as you need to make decisions regarding your children, your finances, and your future. However, divorce doesn’t always have to be filled with conflict and animosity. When both spouses approach the process with insight as to why the marriage is ending and understand the needs of each spouse at the end of the case, an amicable divorce can be achieved. An amicable divorce is more likely to be a peaceful process in which each party is satisfied with the outcome.

Below are 8 valuable tips to help divorcing spouses navigate the process with a smooth, amicable, and clear approach.

1. Don’t Try to Be Friends

When you think of an amicable divorce, you’re probably picturing something akin to a friendship. Although you might develop a friendship with your ex-spouse after some time passes, you likely won’t be able to jump directly from marriage to friendship without letting time pass. You don’t need to ask your ex about their day or take them out for coffee to pursue an amicable divorce. Many spouses find it easier to stay on amicable terms during and after a divorce when they keep a healthy distance from each other.

2. Focus on Your Children

Child custody is one of the most important considerations during a divorce. If you want the best for your children, then you want them to experience the least amount of stress because of your divorce. Instead of viewing the divorce from your eyes, consider viewing the divorce from your children’s perspective. Are they having a difficult time with this divorce? Why? What are they seeing? What will your children remember about your behavior when they reflect on your divorce? Focus on co-parenting and have your children’s best interests in mind. Create a parenting plan that prioritizes your children’s needs. Putting aside your feelings regarding your ex and considering your children’s feelings first, will make it much easier for you and your children to navigate the decision-making process.

3. Practice Good Communication

The way you communicate with your spouse during the divorce sets the tone for the entire process. Non-confrontational communication is the foundation for an amicable divorce. It’s not just a matter of being open and honest with your spouse during the process. Rather, is consistently communicating with your spouse using a tone that encourages a dialogue instead of inciting a response. Approach important child and financial discussions with a willingness to listen and understand your spouse’s perspectives. Keep conversations business-like (i.e., respectful) and focused on finding common ground, allowing you both to move forward as you try and reach an amicable resolution.

One of the keys to good communication during a divorce is active listening. This is especially true when you have children with your spouse. When one spouse actively listens to the other spouse, s/he demonstrates respect for the opinions of the other parent and encourages a continuing dialogue with responses that make the other parent feel that their thoughts and opinions are important. It’s essential to set aside distractions during important child-related conversations so each parent receives the other’s undivided attention. To maintain an open dialogue, try to avoid interrupting the other parent, and instead remain patient so each of you is taking turns expressing your thoughts and opinions on the topic. Remember that good communication is a two-person process, and actively participating in the process will usually produce mutual respect.

4. Try Divorce Mediation

Even if you’re in a healthy place with your soon-to-be former spouse, it’s unlikely that you completely agree on every decision in your divorce. Almost every divorcing couple will encounter a few differences of opinion when it comes to considerations like maintenance, child custody, property division, or the payment of debts in a divorce. The key to success is communicating through your disagreements appropriately. It can be helpful to get legal advice from a divorce attorney with experience in family law. However, bringing family law attorneys into the situation changes the dynamic. A divorce lawyer is someone you hire to fight for you, and you don’t want to declare a fight while you’re trying to work out a truce. Divorce mediation is a valuable alternative to hiring a lawyer and following the traditional litigation path. A mediator’s goal is to work for both of you. The mediator will remain neutral as he or she listens to your disagreements. The mediator will help you explore your options, suggest solutions, and facilitate agreements you will both feel comfortable with. It’s up to you and your ex to decide what you will ultimately do. The mediator can’t make a ruling but he or she can provide valuable suggestions on how to reach an amicable conclusion of your marriage.

5. Take Your Time

Unless there’s a pressing reason for you to complete your divorce quickly, slow the process down. You only need to follow the court’s timeline if you’ve filed for a contested divorce. If you plan to resolve your case before it is filed, you’re free to make decisions at your own pace. You don’t need to file your divorce petition until you’re both ready.

Grant yourself permission to take brief breaks from important discussions or to end discussions early if you feel the situation is getting tense. It’s better to have a peaceful conversation tomorrow than it is to have an argument today.

6. Learn to Compromise

If you don’t have children with your former spouse, you won’t need to keep in touch after your divorce. If you have children with your former spouse, then you’re starting a new co-parenting journey together. You’ll be having important discussions together and making compromises until your children are adults. It would be best to start practicing now. Successful compromises are often the result of listening as much as you talk. If your ex asks for something or proposes an idea, ask them why they feel strongly about it. Let the need to converse drive your questioning. Let your ex explain their entire position without interruption. Think about what is being said. Spend equal time contemplating the merits and the flaws. Acknowledge the merits in your response and explain alternatives if you are not in agreement with the proposal.

7. Hold Yourself to a High Standard

Corny expressions such as “be the bigger person” or “lead by example” are applicable to spouses going through a divorce. Why? Because you can only control your own actions. You cannot control how your former spouse will respond and you cannot make them agree to an amicable divorce. Instead of focusing on what your ex is doing, focus on what you are doing. Don’t engage with emotional or combative tactics and your ex won’t get anything accomplished. Instead, your ex should eventually realize that their communication style isn’t getting them anywhere.

8. Realize That It Is Possible to Have an Amicable Divorce

You’ll save time, stress, and money when you opt for an amicable divorce. You won’t need to worry about attending numerous court dates for divorce proceedings, and you won’t receive a bill for thousands of dollars in legal fees. Keep the situation calm through communication, careful pacing, and sensible compromises, and you’ll be able to amicably end your marriage.

Should you need the assistance of an experienced divorce and child custody attorney in Creve Coeur and O’Fallon or have questions about your divorce situation, know that we are here to help and ready to discuss those questions with you.

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