Divorce can be a painful experience, one that’s filled with doubt, confusion, and a world of hurt, whether you’re the one filing or being served divorce papers. These issues are only compounded if there are children or assets involved. It can be easy to get swept up in the flood of painful emotions, to react to each and every slight, perceived and real.
But divorce is not a fast process; on average it takes up to six months from the time the divorce is filed until the case is concluded.
To stay suspended in such a toxic conflict for such an extended period of time can poison your life, seeping out into your work and other relationships.
Though it might be hard, an amicable divorce is almost always preferable — barring any instances of abuse. That doesn’t mean you need to like your soon to be ex-spouse. In fact, you might even despise them sometimes. But by keeping a civil tone to your proceedings, you are more likely to resolve the matter quickly and cleanly.
Of course, like so many things in life, that’s easier said than done. Before you get stuck in a protracted and ugly divorce, ask a family lawyer for help. In the meantime, here are some basic best practices and tips for keeping your divorce civil — or, as divorce lawyers would say, amicable.
Step 1: Choose the Right Divorce Lawyer
The first and most important step should be to find a divorce lawyer. This might seem counterintuitive, since in a perfect world, an amicable divorce agreement should be as easy as a handshake agreement. But during such an emotional time, it can be impossible to see the situation from a dispassionate point of view. Without this objectivity, it will become difficult to protect your best interests. That’s why you need a divorce lawyer from the very beginning: to push for your interests and to act as a buffer for any unnecessary hostilities that might crop up in the proceeding.
Step 2: Make a Plan
Every meeting with you and your spouse during a divorce should have a clearly defined purpose: Are you talking about the division of assets? Are you deciding who will have custody and when? The important thing is to have one singular focus for your discussion and to stick to it. It can be all too easy to give in to the temptation to lash out (especially if your spouse lashes out first), but if you focus your attention on accomplishing a single objective, it can help you keep your composure.
Step 3: Protecting Your Child
By keeping your divorce civil, you avoid the risk of inadvertently sweeping your child into the drama. It may not seem like much, but even something as simple as asking your child to relay a message can have a profound effect on their emotional well-being.
Even the most amicable divorce can be hard on children. Talking openly and honestly about divorce may help them to understand that it isn’t their fault, and sheltering them from the worst of the arguing can save them a good deal of hurt.
You might look back on your divorce as the best thing you’ve ever done. It could be the new beginning you’ve been waiting for. But the divorce process itself is almost always difficult. Don’t let the divorce papers overwhelm your life; keep the proceedings as civil and amicable as possible so that it is resolved quickly so you can get started on your new life in a good emotional state.