Best Practices

5 Ways To Divorce Amicably...Without Giving In

Learn how to divorce amicably, maintain good relationships, and create fair agreements without giving in to your spouse.

Most couples want to avoid going to court in their divorce. It is better for their family and their finances if they can work together and reach their own agreements. It also helps maintain relationships with friends and family. Most importantly, it makes successful co-parenting possible and improves the outcome for their children. The challenge is that divorce is a very emotional process.

Lasting divorce agreements cannot be reached if one spouse gives in on critical issues to avoid conflict. Giving in creates imbalances of power and resentment that come back up later. The following strategies will keep things civil so you can work together with your spouse on a level playing field and reach fair agreements that will last.

Reduce Conflict

The number one thing you can do to improve your divorce process is to reduce conflict. Be patient, give grace, be respectful, take the high road, and do it more than you should. Less conflict saves time, money, and stress. It also maintains relationships with children, family, and friends. If calm, effective communication becomes difficult, consider pausing the process and looking at different options. Try different communication methods or involve neutral third-party professionals to facilitate the conversation

Work Toward Common Goals

Finding shared goals and mutually beneficial tradeoffs keeps your focus on the positive aspects of working together. It also fosters cooperation that will create momentum. One tip is to put issues into three buckets — what you agree on now, what you can work to agree on, and tough topics you will come back to later.

Identify Power Imbalances

Imbalances of power refer to factors that give one of you an advantage over the other. These can include differences in education, legal knowledge, financial situation, negotiation capacity, and emotional issues surrounding guilt and fear. Both parties will benefit from identifying and eliminating any imbalances of power. The 'weaker' spouse will benefit from a level playing field and fair outcome. The spouse with 'greater power' can avoid an expensive and lengthy court battle, as the other spouse may not see any other fair alternative.

Be Wary of Friend-ucation

Another way to divorce amicably is to limit input from well-meaning friends and family. Although these connections provide needed emotional support, their advice can create many problems due to a lack of specific expertise. This often results in emotionally and financially costly mistakes. Trust me, your friend is not an expert, no matter how many times they may have been divorced.

Get Help When Needed

Engaging professionals does not mean you have to fight in court. In fact, many divorcing couples utilize professionals to guide them through their divorce and keep them out of court. The right professionals reduce conflict, guide couples toward common goals, and eliminate power imbalances. They also provide critical legal, financial, and emotional support to avoid costly mistakes. Professionals can help ad-hoc or through formal processes like mediation and collaboration. The cost of experienced experts is outweighed by the benefit of avoiding mistakes, confidence in a fair process, and reaching better outcomes by staying out of court.

The Bottom Line

Working with your spouse through a cooperative divorce to avoid court and reach your own agreements will save time, money, and stress. It will also lead to far better outcomes. To accomplish this, you must find a way to reduce conflict and maintain a good relationship with your spouse. You will also need to focus on common goals and find ways to reach agreements without giving in to avoid arguments. Finally, don’t be afraid to ignore advice from well-meaning friends and get professional help. This will allow you to divorce amicably without giving in and have an amazing divorce.

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