Ending a marriage will always be a significant life event, but it does not necessarily have to be a negative or unbearable experience. Many couples choose to approach the ending of their marriage with the goal of being amicable with one another. Some couples choose to do this because they share children together and will have to remain co-parents, even of adult children, for the rest of their lives. Other couples do this because they want to avoid the stress and cost of a drawn-out legal battle.
Despite the motivations, pursuing an amicable and respectful split from your spouse has many benefits. You can complete the legal termination of your marriage more quickly, less expensively, and with less collateral damage to your children, your family, and even your employment.
Staying out of court
In some situations, filing for divorce can be necessary. For example, if there has been a history of domestic violence, an out-of-court agreement may not be possible. If one spouse refuses to participate in discussions about an out-of-court agreement, the other spouse may have no option but to turn to the court’s legal process.
The litigation process can be contentious; in fact, our court system is set up to be one spouse “versus” the other. It can feel as if the court has to deem a winner and a loser. While it is not that black and white, going through litigation can pit divorcing spouses against each other.
It goes without saying that divorcing spouses are likely not getting along. If they were, the marriage would probably not be ending. However, just because you and your spouse do not wish to remain spouses, or even friends, does not mean that you cannot have an amicable divorce. Amicable divorces still require difficult conversations and resolving differences. Spouses who decide to pursue and out-of-court solution opt to have these difficult conversations between the two of them, or together with a mediator, rather than at a trial before a judge.
Nixing the name-calling
If you are in the early stages of your divorce, or are considering divorce, and want to have an amicable divorce, you can start by being mindful of your language. Even though you may have strong, negative feelings about your spouse, do your best to avoid mudslinging, including to friends and family. This does nothing but create more conflict and contention, which makes it more difficult to successfully reach an out-of-court solution.
Any out-of-court solution that divorcing spouses reach will involve compromise. Both spouses will have to “give up” certain things they may want out of the divorce. The process requires negotiation and compromise. Having – and maintaining – the expectation that you will not have to give a little in some areas will be an obstacle for you to finality. This means you will have to choose your battles. You will have to prioritize what is most important to you and be prepared to let go of some things that are lower on your priority list. For example, if it is most important to you that you can remain in the home where you and your spouse lived, you may have to compromise on another issue that is high on your spouse’s priority list.
Most people who manage to end their marriages by reaching complete agreements with their spouses say that they are happy they did so. In addition to time and cost concerns, an amicable resolution has many other benefits, especially for any children.
If you are hoping to have an amicable divorce, talk with an experienced family law attorney early in the process to get advice about how to set yourself up for success.