Yes, amicable divorce is possible despite America’s fascination with the knock-down drag-out divorce. We have all seen War of the Roses with Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner – a movie detailing a well-off and seeming happy couple’s marital relationship fall apart, and how they turn their energy towards a bitter fight over their material possessions.
Fortunately, most divorces do not end in the war of the roses. In fact, most couples genuinely want to retain a good relationship with their soon to be ex-spouse for a number of reasons including to promote healthy and active co-parenting, to maintain peace for the children, and because it is much easier and more pleasant to be happy than upset.
So how do you achieve an amicable divorce?
You can achieve an amicable divorce by speaking respectfully to your spouse, by consulting with a therapist to help you process your divorce, and by listening to the sage advice of your attorney.
First, you must decide and commit to speaking respectfully to and about your soon to be ex-spouse. By showing your spouse respect during the divorce process, you are setting a higher standard of communication. In treating him or her with respect, you set the example and expect the same in return. When speaking respectfully, you must assume responsibility for your actions and your feelings. There is no room to blame someone else if you are actively choosing to respect that person throughout your divorce process. An added bonus to being respectful is that you evaluate your behavior patterns which helps you process the reasons why your marriage has ended. This means that you hopefully will not remain stuck in anger or sadness during the divorce.
Further, in deciding to speak respectfully about your spouse, you must also insist that your friends and family members also speak respectfully about your spouse to you and your children. Your friends and family members only want to support you. You simply need to inform them of your goal and commitment to be respectful where your spouse is concerned and lead by example.
Next, you should engage the services of a therapist to help you process the many emotions and stages of grief you will experience during your divorce. By giving thoughtful contemplation to how you feel and evaluating how you ended up in this position, you are empowered. Being empowered means you accept responsibility for your part in the breakdown of the marriage and learn where you might do things differently or how your actions and feelings contributed to the breakdown. This is not meant to place blame, but to observe and learn. By processing your emotions, you put them in their place. Emotions only serve to tell you that something is wrong. They should be acknowledged, then dismissed. They should not become your behavior manifesto for the next several weeks or months during the divorce.
Lastly, if you have hired an attorney, you should listen to your attorney’s advice regarding the settlement of your case. Most attorneys are reasonable and capable of settling a case with your best interests in mind. If you are making emotional decisions, and your attorney tells you that you seem to be making emotional decisions, you need to take a step back and evaluate for yourself whether you are making a decision based in emotion. A well-thought and reasoned decision will be better for you in the long run. If you are not sure your attorney’s advice is correct, consult with another attorney. You do not have to leave your current attorney, but you can get advice from another one and if that attorney gives you the same advice your attorney is giving you, then you know you are getting good advice.
If you tell your attorney you want to amicably resolve your divorce matter, it should happen unless your spouse is overly unreasonable and emotional, or incapable of processing the divorce in an appropriate time frame. When it comes down to the negotiation of the settlement, think about what is fair and remember to return to that concept every time there seems to be difficulty agreeing to a certain term. What is fair and what is legally permissible might not be one and the same. Do not confuse what a judge is required to do with what you think is the fair result. They are often not the same. A judge is bound by rules, statutes, and other law, and an attorney’s ability to present the necessary and correct evidence in order to make a ruling. You will be informed by your attorney what a judge would be required to do in a particular situation, but if it does not seem fair, or you know your spouse will object because it is unfair, you should take a second look at it and see if you can live with a fair result rather than a legal result. If you can, you are making peace with your spouse by accepting or agreeing to a fair result you can live with.
The law office of Neave Family Law can help. Contact us today.