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How To Amicably Divorce | 9 Steps to a Peaceful Divorce

About Brette Sember, JD | Divorce.com

By Brette Sember, JD Updated Aug 28, 2023

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How To Amicably Divorce

Divorce is commonly regarded as one of the most stressful experiences a person can experience as an adult. While it can be a lengthy and arduous process, you can soften its impact by deciding to divorce amicably.

An amicable divorce is more likely to be a peaceful process in which each party is satisfied with the outcome.

Here’s how to have an amicable divorce and start a new chapter in your life.

How To Amicably Divorce

1. Start the Healing Process First

You don’t need to rush into filing for divorce the moment you’ve decided to end your marriage, even in the case of an amicable separation. It’s okay to decide that a divorce is the right option for you. However, it’s usually not helpful to rush into a process that will dramatically change your life, especially while emotions are high.

The act of seeking a divorce isn’t going to repair any hurt, stress, or anxious feelings you’re experiencing as a result of your marriage ending.

Healing from the breakup of your relationship is an entirely separate process, and it’s something you should start before you begin the emotional labor of getting a divorce.

Many people find that individual counseling helps. Talking about your feelings in a judgment-free environment without your spouse present will give you the space you need to process the complicated emotions you may be feeling.

Additionally, a divorce coach can save you time and money in an amicable divorce, particularly as a thinking partner to help you think about the next 10 minutes, 10 days, 10 months, and 10 years, especially regarding your decisions.

2. Don’t Try To Be Friends

When you think of an amicable divorce, you’re probably picturing something akin to a friendship.

Although you might develop a friendship with your ex-spouse after some time passes, you likely won’t be able to jump directly from marriage to friendship without letting the dust settle.

You don’t need to ask your former spouse about their day or take them out for lunch to pursue an amicable divorce. You don’t even need to follow them on social media. Many people find it easier to stay on amicable terms during and after a divorce when they keep a healthy distance from each other.

You’re working towards building a new life, and an essential part of that is setting boundaries and separating physically AND emotionally.

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3. Learn How To Communicate With Each Other

You will have to talk to your spouse often throughout the divorce process.

If you share children, you will need to talk to your spouse for the rest of your life. One of the first significant steps in an amicable divorce is finding an effective method of communication that you can sustain indefinitely.

Often people find that email or a co-parenting app with feedback is the best way to communicate. That way, there is no pressure of an immediate response or an emotional knee-jerk reaction.

Many couples get divorced because they have trouble communicating with each other as partners. Amicable communication is much less intimate and doesn’t have the same emotional implications.

You can learn to communicate with your spouse the same way you’d communicate with a classmate or coworker when you’re sharing a big project. You want to be concise, clear, and productive.

Efficiency is the goal, which is much easier than deeply personal communication.

It’s easier to have a productive conversation with someone after your emotions have settled. After you’ve started the healing process, practice communicating with each other regarding important information.

Ask a coach, therapist, or friend to even act out conversations if you are worried about being too emotional!

Check in with your feelings to ensure that any pain you’re still feeling isn’t motivating your choices or communication style. You may hit a few bumps along the road initially, but it will become easier with time.

4. Focus on the Goals You Share

If you share essential assets or responsibilities with your spouse, like children or a family business, you have an active shared interest in their health and success. Child custody and child support are important considerations.

You want the best for your children, and you want them to experience the least amount of stress as a result of your divorce.

Children often have a difficult time understanding and coping with divorce, and it can be helpful to view the situation through their eyes. Ask yourself - What do I want my children to remember when they reflect on our divorce and my behavior during it?

Co-parenting is a major factor in an amicable divorce. You both have your children’s best interests in mind, and you need to create a parenting plan that prioritizes your children’s needs. This needs to be between you and your spouse, not the children!

If you both put aside your feelings regarding each other and consider your children’s feelings first, it’s much easier to navigate the decision-making process.

5. Try Divorce Mediation

Even if you’re in a healthy place with your soon-to-be ex-spouse, it’s unlikely that you completely agree on every decision in your divorce.

Almost every couple will encounter a few differences of opinion when it comes to considerations like alimony, child custody, or property division in a divorce. The key to success is communicating through your disagreements appropriately.

It can be helpful to get legal advice from a divorce attorney with experience in family law.

However, bringing family law attorneys into the situation changes the dynamic. A divorce lawyer is someone you hire to fight for you, and you don’t want to declare a fight while you’re trying to work out a truce.

Call a law firm after you’ve determined that you can’t negotiate independently in good faith or with the help of a mediator. Alternatively, ask them to represent you for just this one issue.

Divorce mediation is a valuable alternative to hiring a lawyer. A mediator’s goal is to work for both of you. They’ll remain completely neutral as they listen to your disagreements.

They’ll help you explore your options and pitch solutions or compromises you’ll both feel comfortable with. It’s up to you to decide what you’ll ultimately do. Your mediator can’t make a ruling. They can only offer valuable advice.

When you’re both on the same page at the time you file for divorce, the process often goes very smoothly. If you can reach agreements through mediation, you can peacefully file for a simple uncontested divorce.

All you need to do is complete your divorce settlement agreement with the information you gathered from your mediation session and file your divorce papers.

6. If Mediation Fails, Try Collaborative Divorce

If your divorce goes to court, it’s no longer amicable. When you file for contested divorce, you’re declaring that you cannot work out your disagreements on your own and asking a judge to make decisions for you. It’s best to avoid a contested divorce at all costs as a divorcing couple.

Collaborative divorce is a step below a divorce trial. You’ll each have divorce lawyers and a team of professionals to help with your divorce case, but you won’t need to present your arguments in court.

In fact, you sign a contract committing to settle without court. Frequently a coach will work with you or your spouse to hone in on what you need to be happy moving forward and sometimes a collaborative divorce team will also include a certified divorce financial planner.

Experts can weigh in and negotiate on your behalf, and lawyers will advocate for your best interest, but they don’t make the final decisions. Collaborative divorce is designed to end in both sides reaching an agreement on their own terms.

7. Take Your Time

Unless there’s a pressing reason for you to complete your divorce quickly, slow the process down.

You only need to follow the court’s timeline if you’ve filed for contested divorce. If you plan to file for uncontested divorce, you’re free to make decisions at your own pace. You don’t need to file your divorce papers until you’re both ready.

You both need to grant yourselves permission to take brief breaks from important discussions or to end discussions early if you feel yourselves getting tense. It’s better to have a peaceful conversation tomorrow than it is to have an argument today.

And the phrase “I need to sleep on that” can work wonders.

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8. Master the Art of Compromise

If you don’t share children with your former spouse, you won’t need to keep in touch after your divorce. If you share children, you’re embarking on a new journey and a new normal together.

You’ll be having important discussions together and making compromises until your children are adults (and likely after). It can be wise to start practicing now.

Successful compromises are often the result of listening as much as you talk. If your former spouse asks for something or proposes an idea, ask them why they feel strongly about it. Let curiosity drive your questioning.

Let them explain their entire case without interrupting them. Think about what they’re saying. Spend equal time contemplating the merits and the flaws. Honor the merits in your response and explain alternatives if you’re not thrilled with their proposal.

9. Hold Yourself to a High Standard

Expressions like “be the bigger person” or “lead by example” seem cliche, but they’re solid advice to consider throughout your divorce.

You can’t control how your former spouse will respond. You can’t make them comply with the idea of an amicable divorce.

Don’t focus on what they’re doing. Focus on what you’re doing. If you remain peaceful and refuse to engage with emotional or combative tactics, your ex won’t get anything accomplished.

They’ll eventually realize that their communication style isn’t getting them anywhere.

It’s Possible To Have a Peaceful Divorce

You’ll save time, stress, and money when you opt for a peaceful divorce.

You won’t need to worry about attending numerous court dates for divorce proceedings, and you won’t receive a bill for thousands of dollars in legal fees.

Keep the situation calm through communication, careful pacing, and sensible compromises, and you’ll be able to peacefully end your marriage and begin your new journey.

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