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. Below are 10 valuable tips to help divorcing spouses navigate the process with a smooth, amicable, and clear approach.
1. 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.
2. Put Children First
If you and your spouse have children, their well-being should always take precedence. Remember to keep their best interests in mind and work toward drafting a joint parenting plan that ensures a stable and nurturing environment for the children with both parents. Co-parent with mutual respect so your children witness your actions with the intent of providing them with a sense of security during this transitional phase in their lives.
When discussing child custody arrangements, remember that consistency and stability are vital for children’s emotional well-being. When creating a parenting plan, focus on block time periods that allow both parents to be actively involved in their children’s lives. Be flexible and considerate of the work schedule for you and your spouse.
3. Choose the Right Divorce Attorney for Your Case
Selecting the right divorce attorney can significantly impact the tone and outcome of your divorce. Look for an attorney whose personality and communication reflect the tone you want to present during the divorce. For example, if you want to try and negotiate an amicable settlement but want to be prepared should you need to go to court, hire a lawyer who has significant experience in mediation and litigation. That lawyer would then try to be collaborative in suggesting solutions and negotiating a settlement rather than confrontational but still be ready to go to court for a hearing or trial if litigation is necessary.
When searching for the right divorce attorney, consider seeking recommendations from friends or family who have been through similar experiences. Look for someone who has experience in handling divorces in the way you want your case to proceed. If you want an amicable divorce, find a lawyer who values the importance of maintaining a positive relationship between both parties instead of one who takes a scorched-earth approach. During your initial consultation, pay attention to the attorney’s communication style and whether he or she is actively listening to your concerns.
4. Consider Mediation
Mediation is an effective way to resolve a divorce in a non-adversarial setting. A skilled mediator can help facilitate discussions and assist both spouses in reaching agreements that work for everyone involved. Choosing mediation often reduces stress and legal expenses, making the process smoother for both spouses.
During mediation, a neutral third party works with both spouses to identify common goals and explore potential solutions. Mediation sessions provide a safe space for open communication and creative problem-solving. The mediation process allows divorcing families to maintain control over decisions regarding their children and finances rather than leaving them in the hands of a judge to decide.
5. You Will Need to Compromise
Compromise is essential in any amicable divorce. Your mindset should be to find solutions that meet the needs of both spouses rather than trying to win every aspect of the divorce. Being flexible and willing to give at times will most likely result in an amicable resolution.
When discussing issues such as the division of property, spousal maintenance, or child custody, consider the bigger picture and the long-term benefits of compromising today versus the cost of litigation. Avoid getting fixated on micromanaging and small details in a parenting plan that may not significantly impact your future. The willingness to compromise demonstrates a commitment to resolving conflict amicably, which can lay the foundation for a positive post-divorce co-parenting relationship.
6. Protect Your Financial Interests
Even in amicable divorces, it’s always important to protect your financial interests. Enter the divorce process transparent about the family’s assets and debts. Work through the assets and debt spreadsheets together to make sure nothing is missing. This will lay the foundation for having good discussions about how to divide property and debt fairly. Jointly gather all relevant financial documents, including your last three years of income tax returns, your last three months of bank statements, securities statements, and debts. Also, gather your most recent retirement account statements and the out-of-pocket cost of health insurance benefits provided by your employer. With the guidance of a financial advisor, you can review and discuss your financial situation objectively and create a monthly budget and savings plan that aligns with your future goals. Additionally, you will need to update beneficiaries on insurance policies and retirement accounts to reflect your new circumstances post-divorce.
7. Focus on the Future
If you have children, try to focus on building a positive future for you and your children post-divorce. Letting go of resentments and negative feelings about your former spouse can be challenging but is essential for co-parenting. Instead of dwelling on what happened in the past that caused the divorce, embrace the possibilities that lie ahead. Set new personal and professional goals. Draft an action plan toward achieving those new goals. Tell yourself that while divorce marks the end of one chapter in your life, it also opens the door to a new chapter with opportunities for growth in all aspects of your life.
8. Try to Be Understanding
Divorce can bring out the worst in spouses. Emotions are on high alert and feelings are often hurt throughout the process. Knowing this, you should try to approach the situation with understanding. Acknowledge your emotions and allow your spouse to express his or her emotions without judgment. Practicing waiting to hit the send button on texts and emails until you have had adequate time to consider what may be returned in response. Taking these steps can lead to less conflict and a more amicable settlement.
9. Acknowledge Achievements
As you progress through the divorce process, take time to acknowledge the achievements you and your spouse have made along the way toward reaching an amicable settlement. Divorce is a process and each step towards a fair settlement is something to take note of. Recognize the efforts you and your spouse put into maintaining a respectful divorce process. Acknowledging these steps, no matter how small they may seem, can reinforce the commitment to an amicable conclusion to your divorce.
10. Take Time to Do Something for You
Divorce can be emotionally draining, so it’s essential to take some time away from the process. Participate in activities that make you happy, such as spending time with friends and family, pursuing hobbies, or spending an hour a week with a professional counselor. Surround yourself with a support network of friends and family who can provide emotional support when needed. Consider speaking with a professional counselor if you would prefer to have a safe space to discuss your feelings and emotions.
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.