A divorce has the potential to be horrible, high stress, and financially destructive. But a divorce also has the potential to be smooth, low stress, positive, and financially beneficial. It all depends on how the two of you approach things. The power is in your hand to change the entire outcome of your divorce. You can make it work for you instead of working against you. These simple steps will put you on the better road – the road to an amicable divorce:
1. Form a unified front for the benefit of the kids
One of the most contested issues in divorce is custody. That can involve decisions on where the kids live, where they go to school, and who gets to spend time with them. A custody decision also tends to shift large amounts of money in the form of child support. The fact is that people spend a lot of time fighting over the one thing that should not be fought over: the right to show love to your children. By definition, a custody fight is harmful for kids. Instead of fighting, the two of you should form a team for the benefit of the children. Constructive problem solving tends to begin as soon as the two of you declare the kids must not be impacted by the divorce. When the marriage was good, the two of you worked together as a team. If you can do that once again the children will benefit and the divorce process will be friendlier.
2. Don’t let new significant others enter the fray
New girlfriends and boyfriends tend to increase the tension and worsen the entire situation. Even though your new, future life beckons, it is not fair to bring an outsider to the negotiation table. Try to keep outsiders from interfering with the divorce because they can only do one thing: increase tension, increase anger, and draw out the entire divorce.
3. Use mediation early on in the process
There is a requirement to mediate in most jurisdictions. That means you will eventually end up in mediation. You might as well embrace the process as early as possible. The fact is that mediation is an extremely successful process. The vast majority of divorce cases settle in mediation. Mediation can be scheduled before your divorce filing, just after the divorce filing, before trial, or any other time desired. It is a great way to settle a case with minimal cost and lower stress. Try to mediate as soon as you can and then participate sincerely in the process.
4. Do not destroy assets, or default on bills.
Letting bills default or destroying assets is a great way to ensure your divorce will be a worst-case scenario. Many people allow their mortgages to fall behind in an attempt to punish their spouse. But in the end both spouses and their kids are punished. Divorcing couples do all sorts of things in an attempt to damage the other side. This sort of activity will never get you ahead. And in the end, the divorce will be longer, more expensive, and more hateful. Make sure you keep all your bills current. Try to preserve the value of assets. If both sides try to do that, the divorce will be friendlier, faster, and more amicable.
5. If you have attorneys, encourage them to be settlement oriented.
The problem with some attorneys is their desire to churn cases and to create higher legal fees. A good attorney looks for the quickest, lowest cost, and most beneficial solution. You are the client and you are ultimately in control of the case. Be sure to have regular discussions with your attorney. Ensure they have your best interest at heart and that some effort is made to settle the case. As mentioned above, mediation is a very productive process. But your attorney must endeavor to negotiate an early mediation. If your attorney does not share your goals – get a new attorney. Because your ultimate goal should be to achieve an amicable divorce. And to do that, you must exert some positive control over the process.
An amicable divorce is a worthy goal. Your children and your bank account will thank you. Best yet, you will live longer and have a better life. Divorce does not need to be horrible and high stress. Practice these simple five steps and you will be on your way to a more amicable divorce.
Howard Iken is a divorce attorney in Orlando, Florida. He believes in settling cases in an amicable way and then moving on to a positive future.