The words “amicable” and “divorce” are not mutually exclusive. Believe it or not, an amicable divorce is possible, and in my 34 year career as a divorce attorney, I’ve seen it more often than you might think. How to have an amicable divorce is something I’d like to address in this article.
How to have an amicable divorce
The first thing I tell clients who wish for an amicable divorce, but have too many negative feelings blocking that vision, is to think of the divorce as a business. You and your soon-to-be-ex are now starting a business together called “raising happy, healthy children.”
In order for the business to be successful, courtesy, kindness and the ability to think about the business at all times must have priority over negative, personal feelings. Is that easy to do? Absolutely not, but it is possible with the right mindset and the attitude of putting “the business” first.
Here are 6 tips on how to have an amicable divorce:
1. Put the children first.
I just mentioned “the business,” and the importance of putting your children’s best interest before the resentment, anger and hostility you might hold for your soon-to-be-ex. Although difficult to do, the rewards are wonderful. When you have happy, healthy children, isn’t life so much easier? But that’s just the short-term. If you and your soon-to-be-ex have an amicable divorce, which bleeds over into an amicable post-divorce relationship, the family as a whole will benefit in the long term.
2. Try not to play the victim.
Most people going through a divorce feel like a victim, and actually, that’s OK. What prevents people from having an amicable divorce is when that victim mentality takes too long to leave, or never leaves. When people feel as if they are a victim, they have animosity towards the person who put them in that position, and it’s almost impossible to be amicable towards your soon-to-be-ex. At the beginning of the divorce process, it’s common to feel victimized, but at some point, you should let that go and instead, try to feel your inner strength and independence.
3. Don’t focus on the past.
You can’t change the past, so try not to think about things like, “he cheated”, “he never helped with the kids when they were babies”, etc. Dwelling on the past is unproductive and only causes more resentment. Resentment leads to anger and hostility, which will hurt your ability to be amicable. Instead, try focusing on the future and what you want your post-divorce life to look like. Focus on the things you want and try to craft your divorce decree to accommodate them. What happened in your marriage is over and is in the past. Now is the time to take control over your future!
4. Focus on what you want, not on how to hurt or punish your ex.
I’ve seen divorcing clients who are so angry at their ex, that their number one priority is to hurt, punish and cause them pain. This can result in behavior including parental alienation, financial abuse and bullying. You cannot achieve an amicable divorce with this attitude or behavior. Instead, think about where you want to be in the future. What assets do you want, what parenting schedule works best for you and the children and what budget allows you and the children to maintain the lifestyle that you enjoyed pre-divoce? Remember that if your goals and your mission are “the business,” the divorce will be amicable.
5. Try to see your spouse as a parent, not your ex.
This isn’t easy to do, especially if your spouse hurt you. Regardless of the most despicable behavior toward you, if you know deep down that your spouse loves your children, then take the approach of viewing your ex through your children’s eyes. If “the business” is raising happy, healthy children, then the children spending time with both parents is great for the business!
6. MEDIATE YOUR DIVORCE!
This is perhaps the most direct route to an amicable divorce. Couples who mediate their divorce are invested in reaching a fair agreement that will ensure that the family as a whole will enjoy a good post-divorce life, both financially and emotionally. Because the parties are invested in the negotiation and decision-making process, and have some skin in the game, the chances of having to go to Court post-divorce dramatically decreases.
Mediation is actually the hallmark of an amicable divorce, and more and more couples are realizing that today.
Even a high-conflict divorce can be mediated if both of the parties are willing to do the work. If you are thinking, “I can’t stand to be in the same room with him/her”, there are other options, such as conducting a mediation session via zoom. Sometimes having the computer screen in between helps to reduce the tension level. What parties end up realizing is that with the help of the mediator, they are forced to take off their protective shield and communicate in a businesslike way, which then helps them to communicate more productively long after the divorce is final.
I hope that you find my tips helpful in guiding you through the divorce process. If you would like to schedule a free, initial consultation to discuss your case, I am here to help. Contact me for a consultation at: (781) 357-6355 or visit my website for more information.
After over 30 years of hands-on experience working in the courts of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Attorney Catherine Becker Good has developed a trusting and personal approach to interacting with her clients that makes them feel safe, supported, and heard during a vulnerable time. Catherine fully understands that the Probate Court experience can be overwhelming and confusing. She is committed to easing the anxiety and stress that all too often accompanies the probate court process by standing with you and for you as she advocates on your behalf.
Catherine has appeared before most judges in the Probate Courts across the state. This exposure to various courts and the particular practices of each judge has provided Catherine with the necessary insight to navigate through the individual nuances of various judges and court personnel. She will work with you to strategize a legal course of action that best benefits you.
As a skilled negotiator and mediator, Catherine remains focused and calm during highly contentious situations, which helps her clients do the same. With the innate ability to sense when to litigate and when to compromise, Catherine has developed a solid reputation with both clients and court officials built on her impeccable professionalism and legal knowledge. If you’d like to schedule a consultation, visit her website.