Getting divorced while remaining civil or even becoming friends can be possible. Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin called it ‘consciously uncoupling’. Just because you have decided that you no longer want to be married to each other doesn’t mean you have to become bitter enemies. It is possible to have an amicable divorce.
Obviously, emotions are running high. Choosing to end a marriage is never an easy decision, and there will be moments where you and your ex-spouse may clash. That’s perfectly normal. But, trying to stay rational and pragmatic about the situation can help make the divorce process quicker, cheaper, and less stressful.
How do you keep a divorce amicable?
It’s easier said than done, but it’s not impossible. You won’t always get it right, but if you and your ex-spouse can work together rather than against each other, the whole process will run much more smoothly.
Don’t Seek Revenge
Bitter divorces make memorable TV, but they will only make you miserable in real life. You have to try and let any anger go because it won’t help you achieve the outcomes you want. There may be resentment, but fighting against your ex will only make the divorce longer and more expensive. Plus, you want to come out of it feeling positive and hopeful for the future, not dwelling on the past.
Keep those communication channels open. Negotiating matters between yourselves is more cost-effective than using a solicitor to do so but may be more difficult. However, the anger and resentment that comes from fighting aren’t worth it. This is especially true if you are parents. Don’t forget that you both need to co-parent, which will mean talking to each other regularly. If you stay talking and trying to work together, you will find a compromise that works for the entire family.
If talking is difficult, try email. Writing things down can often help. You can be more open and honest in an email. It is a safe way to communicate if relationships are feeling strained. There are also parenting apps which can help you to keep all the communication on this subject together and most will help you to keep your language appropriate.
Don’t Involve the Kids
If you are parents, remember your children are watching and listening. Don’t bad-mouth your ex-spouse when they are around, and don’t use them to score points. Your children love you both very much and have the right to have a proper relationship with both of you. You have to help that happen.
Remember, the breakdown of a marriage impacts everyone. You can get lost in your own emotions and forget that your ex-partner is dealing with their own feelings too. There are various emotional stages a person will go through when divorcing, and you may be at different points. Be sympathetic (especially if you instigated proceedings). Try and see things from your ex’s point of view. You never know, you may find friendship with them once you’re no longer married.
Getting a divorce doesn’t mean you are suddenly alone. Friends and family will be there for you. What you don’t want are people who play the blame game and make negative comments about your ex. Yes, these people think they are being helpful, but they’re not going to help you rebuild a relationship with your former partner.
Have long-term plans
What do you want and need once you are divorced? You want the kids to be happy. You both need suitable and affordable places to live. You need to be able to attend parents’ evenings, graduations, birthday parties, weddings together. Imagine how the future will look and feel if you don’t get on.
It feels scary now, but knowing what you want to achieve and how you will get there is crucial if you are going to keep things amicable.
It doesn’t have to be all drama
There is so much provision out there to help you through a divorce that the likelihood of it becoming acrimonious is relatively small. Mediators, counsellors, divorce coaches are available to help you work through things together. Many family lawyers will be able to help you towards an amicable solution. If this is important to you, ask questions to establish if this is how the lawyer you plan to engage works before you move forward with them.
It’s always best to negotiate and make plans before beginning divorce proceedings. If that sounds tricky, perhaps organise mediation and see if that helps.
Speaking to a counsellor or a divorce coach is also highly recommended. If you can get support managing your emotions, it will reduce the impact the divorce has on you, your ex-partner and other family members involved. Finding emotional strength is vital during a divorce.
Talking to a financial planner is also recommended. When making decisions about the future, you need to have a clear financial plan. Without one, your negotiations may not find you the best result. Any decisions made will need to be confirmed by a solicitor who will draw up legal documents.
I’m Tamsin, and I’m a financial planner. I work with divorcing couples, helping them understand how to plan for the future. I can also help with the division of assets and help you feel in control of your finances.
Book a free 15-minute chat here to see how I can help.