If your spouse isn’t abusive or a narcissist, then an amicable divorce is possible. It’s also desirable, as it’s going to be less expensive and will be over a lot faster.
But having an amicable divorce doesn’t happen automatically. It tends to require some conscious steps on your part.
Talk to your ex.
Discuss your desire to have an amicable divorce. “Our relationship is over, we’ve got to reorganize the family, let’s not prolong the agony with more fighting.” It also doesn’t hurt to acknowledge you had a role in ending the marriage. It probably was not all your ex’s fault.
Your ex may want the same thing.
Some people can get along just fine when they aren’t wrapped up in the expectations of a relationship. Some people even end up becoming friends with their ex. It’s not impossible to have a calm, rational conversation about what’s ahead.
Expecting your ex to remain amicable after such bad behavior is probably a bridge too far.
Avoid dating during your divorce.
Sure, it doesn’t seem fair. Your relationship is over. You may even be splitting because your ex had an affair. He or she might still be seeing that person during the divorce.
But people’s feelings and emotions are not always rational. Dating during divorce is still one of the quickest way to send an ex-spouse’s temper into the stratosphere. Even if they’re with someone else they’ll feel the pain of the rejection.
You might have to be the bigger person. Just remember, keeping things civil benefits you as much as it benefits your ex. Time enough to date when he or she can’t do anything to make your life more miserable as a result.
Keep your temper in check.
Losing your cool is one of the quickest ways to escalate divorce conflict. It can also become a massive liability.
Take a deep breath. Get a therapist. Get a punching bag. Do whatever you have to do in order to stay cool, calm, and collected when it counts.
Keep mum on social media sites.
Defriending your ex isn’t enough. You have friends in common. Anything you say could get back around to him or her.
It can also be used as evidence in court, which could mean your settlement isn’t nearly as favorable. And if your ex gets incensed over your latest Facebook post you could easily end up there, as you may kill your chances of settling amicably out of court.
Really put the kids first.
If you’re a candidate for an amicable divorce at all then you need to recognize three things:
- Your ex is just as capable of being a parent as you are.
- Your kids need both parents.
- The courts want your kids to have a relationship with both of you.
Once you can get your mind wrapped around these three truths you can abandon fantasies of having sole custody. You can get on with the business of figuring out what co-parenting will look like. You’ll be committed to creating a schedule that’s workable for both you and your ex.
You may even start thinking about alternate arrangements, like bird’s nesting. You’ll start exploring tech tools to help you co-parent better. And you’ll realize this person is going to be in your life until all the kids turn 18, whether you like it or not.
Maintain realistic expectations.
Barring special circumstances, for the most part, divorce lawyers more or less know what a fair settlement looks like. They know what courts are likely to support.
If you go in thinking your spouse is going to end up having to part with 80% of the marital property while paying a hefty spousal support bill for the rest of your life it’s going to be really hard to keep things friendly. Talk to your lawyer about what an equitable settlement might look like, and realize there will be more than one way to structure that deal. Go in with the intent of allowing both parties to walk away with their dignity.
After all, if you’re truly committed to an amicable divorce there’s no reason to try to screw your ex over, right?