At first glance, you may think the words “amicable” and “divorce” don’t belong in the same sentence. By its very nature, a divorce means that two people no longer want to be together and have decided to go their separate ways. If everything was fine between them, this would not be the case. However, moving through the legal process of dissolving a marriage should always be approached in a pragmatic and conciliatory fashion. This will save you time, money and more heartache.
Yes, I know it is easier said than done. Any family breakdown will be a time of emotional upheaval. Tensions and emotions will be running in the red – but you need to do everything you can to move forward, sort what needs to be sorted and move on to the next phase of your life.
6 steps to an amicable divorce
There are some tips we have picked up over the years that can help you if you are struggling to stick to the amicable pathway. Of course, it takes two, and it may even be useful to share the points we have posted below with your soon-to-be ex. What’s the worst that could happen?
Don’t try to get revenge – Trying to get one over on your spouse, or “take them for all they are worth”, is not a useful approach. It is ultimately unlikely to get you the result you want, will cause more bad feeling and lengthen the time and cost to sort you divorce. Let bygones be bygones. Get on and sort it!
Keep talking – you do need to speak to your other half to get things sorted out. Refusing to talk to them does not help this. It will lead to higher costs if all communication has to go through solicitors. If there are any children involved, you will still need to co- parent so make sure you have up-to-date contact details and keep the communication channels open.
Leave the children out of it – never use children as pawns or to score points. It is not fair on them. You could risk alienating them, sooner or later. It is not worth it. They deserve an ongoing relationship with both parents. Don’t try to turn them against the other parent.
Be understanding – there are lot of different emotional stages a person will go through in a divorce, including anger, denial and shock. Your ex-spouse may be at a different stage from you, particularly if you are the one who instigated proceedings. Accept this and be sympathetic to their position. Listen to their concerns and suggest ways to move things forward where appropriate.
Phone a friend – don’t be afraid to ask friends, family, doctors etc for support. Even if they are mutual friends, they will not want to take sides but should support you both if they are true friends. They can be a pressure valve for you. Alternatively, you can call on the help of a divorce coach.
Rise above it – if your ex is being completely unreasonable, show you are the better person and rise above it. Maintain your calm and resist the temptation to stoop to their level. If you are suffering threatening or abusive behaviour, your lawyer will be able to offer extra support and advice and point you at additional agencies who can help.
All family law specialists should advise an amicable approach to divorce and the related issues of sorting finances and any arrangements for children. It is the approach promoted by Resolution, the national body for family lawyers. Members sign up to commit to a Code of Practice that promotes a non-confrontational approach to resolving family problems. All Woolley & Co lawyers are members of Resolution and very much committed to an amicable approach.
Aggressive and combative negotiations between estranged couples are not constructive for anyone, particularly if children are involved. A confrontational approach means it all takes longer to sort out the issues and costs more money.
Choosing a family lawyer who is a member of Resolution provides reassurance that you have chosen someone who just wants the best outcome for the family and who is not going to string out proceedings or cause additional heartache to those involved. At Woolley & Co, we estimate that around 75% of our cases are now dealt with amicably, and I think there is a momentum to that number increasing further, particularly with no fault divorce on the horizon at long last.
The number of Resolution members is growing at a healthy rate, which I think reflects a growing desire in the profession to do away with the “Rottweiler” style solicitors, so stereotypical of some television soaps, where they are urged to “take them for all we can get” and go about this in an aggressive and abrasive fashion.
Our advice? Choose a lawyer who is a member of Resolution and follow these steps. If you are able to stick to these guidelines, you are more likely to manage an amicable divorce. This will help you keep a lid on costs, leaving more to split with you and your ex allowing both of you to start your new lives.
Family Solicitor Coventry