As divorce lawyers we see all ends of the spectrum when it comes to how couples divorce –whether they go through the process easily and in agreement; whether they experience emotional pain and distress or whether they put the gloves on with a determination to battle and fight every step of the way.
How to end a marriage and stay friends
From our years of experience of handling divorce cases it seems the couples who manage to stay friends after divorce follow these tips:
- Don’t argue over the little things – there’s little point arguing over who gets the saucepans or whether it’s fair when your other half never even cooked to use them. Try and come to an agreement and not get too attached to inanimate objects.
- Put the children and their health first – arguments create upset and stress, not good for you and certainly not good for the children. Children can benefit enormously from seeing that their parents still get along, it certainly helps remove some of their fears that maybe they are somehow to blame for the relationship breaking down.
- Understand your legal rights in relation to the divorce and be prepared to be reasonable when it comes to things like who sees the children when, how possessions are split and so on.
- Don’t fight it – if the relationship is over by all means talk to your spouse but don’t necessarily expect to be able to change their mind. Many clients come to us saying that they have received divorce papers but they are clearly not ready to accept that things can’t be repaired. Emotional support from friends, counsellors and therapists can be invaluable at this time.
- Plan and prepare – if you are instigating the divorce don’t let it come as a complete shock to your spouse. Prepare the ground, have open conversations and realise they are bound to have an emotional reaction which might manifest itself as anger rather than upset.
The practicalities of how to get a divorce can seem daunting, but they are certainly less difficult if both parties approach the process with mutual respect, dignity and understanding.
Divorce is an extremely emotional and difficult step in anyone’s lives. None of us ever imagine whilst standing at the altar or during that dream wedding in the Seychelles that ultimately it will end up as an acrimonious divorce. It doesn’t have to be horribly acrimonious, and yes, it is possible to keep your relationship with your ex friendly. But it all depends on your attitude and that of your spouse – and of course the approach taken by your lawyer
Choose your divorce lawyer carefully
As resolution accredited family lawyers we are encouraged at all times to take an amiable approach. That means in the way we draft correspondence, in the advice we give to our clients and how we liaise with the other parties involved. We approach things in a constructive and non-confrontational way and avoid inflammatory language in correspondence and conversations with all parties. With the right lawyer you are more likely to have your divorce conducted in a civilised manner.
The government is trying to encourage couples to settle their matrimonial differences outside of the court room. Mediation is now a forerunner to contested proceedings regarding children and is always recommended on financial matters and most lawyers encourage their clients that “point scoring” and “mudslinging” is a thing of the past.
Whilst disagreements over the arrangements for the children or financial disputes may be emotive and at times complicated it’s nearly always true that the court room isn’t the best place to see them resolved. If you can reach an agreement between yourselves, rather than be bound by the decision of a complete stranger (the Judge) you are far more likely to resolve matters amicably. In my experience you’re also more likely to reach an agreement you are both happy with, rather than with a court ruling where often both parties walk away unhappy.
Whilst it may not always be possible to divorce and stay friends you can certainly improve your chances of having a civil relationship with your ex. I agree it is not always easy. In cases where the one party has had an extra marital relationship or there has been emotional or physical abuse then understandably emotions run high and sometimes forgiveness is a long way off. But sometimes drawing a line under the marriage and allowing both parties to lead independent lives makes it easier to get along. I often have divorced clients say to me that they get on much better with their former partner now than they have done for a long time in an unhappy marriage.
I have dealt with hundreds of divorces during my career. I always offer the same advice to everyone – if you can deal with it amicably it is always the best and most positive way, especially for parents who after all will be inextricably linked for many years to come.