We hear from people facing divorce every day and are often asked for advice and thoughts on their particular situation. If there was one piece of advice I want to pass on to you, it’s about the benefit of working together with your soon-to-be-ex-spouse and keeping the divorce process as amicable as possible.
“AMICABLE??!! It’s a divorce for goodness sake!” Yes, amicable.
No, ‘amicable’ does not mean that you need to like each other… or even agree with each other. ‘Amicable’ simply involves keeping emotions in check and consciously working at de-escalating conflict. This keeps the power of decision-making between your partner and yourself (as opposed to the courts) and avoids escalating the divorce process.
Let’s not fool ourselves, just because you have opted for an amicable divorce, does not mean that it is going to be easy (but then again, talk to anyone caught in a brutal court case with an angry Ex and everything becomes relative). Opting for an amicable separation requires that you be able to communicate well enough with your spouse in order to negotiate. It will take work and maturity. Your mediator or collaborative lawyer will help you to understand your rights and responsibilities and help to keep the process on course.
Benefit: Privacy and Confidentiality
Consider this, the more contested and emotional your divorce, the greater the number of professionals that will need to be involved. The greater the number of professionals involved, the more your personal life is going to be out on public display for all to see.
Working together and keeping it amicable means that your privacy remains intact and your personal matters are revealed only to those that you choose to involve. Only statements that you have filed with the court are accessible to the public. Therefore, separation agreements, personal terms, negotiations and conditions may be kept between the divorcing parties – and out of the public eye.
Benefit: The “Stick” Element
What good is it, spending outrageous amounts of money on a bitterly-contested divorce agreement only to have to revisit it in two years because someone is feeling vindictive and upset? You want to create an agreement that ‘sticks!’ That happens when the two of you work together to make it happen.
Let’s be real. You are divorcing someone who, at one time, was the love of your life. Right now, you are hurt, you are sad – you may even have desires for vengeance! Regardless, when all the dust settles, you will need to live your own life. Chances are that a bitter, nasty divorce is not going to turn anyone into a better person.
If there are children involved, that other parent is still going to be a part of your life. ‘Bitterness now’ evokes ‘bitterness later.’ How you proceed now is going to set the tone for many years to come. Working together and trying to keep it amicable creates the possibility for healing and forgiveness…if only for yourself.