In an ideal world, all weddings would result in fairytale marriages and happy endings. No one would ever disagree, cheat, grow apart, lie or lose interest, and divorces would never happen. Of course, that world does not exist.
Divorce is an unfortunate reality of life for many people. It's not always a bad thing. People grow, mature and grow apart over time, and some marriages cannot sustain these changes. For some people, the divorce is sudden and unexpected; for others, it's a slow process of marital decay until the separation is inevitable. No matter why the marriage fell apart, the divorce itself is bound to be an emotional period that's difficult for all parties involved.
Some things will make the process easier for everyone, however, especially if there are children in the mix. By setting aside the hurt feelings and working through the practical aspects of getting the divorce finalized, you can both move on with your lives as quickly and painlessly as possible.
What is an Amicable Divorce?
For people in the throes of a divorce, it may seem anything but amicable. Many separations are preceded by months or even years of arguing, blame-placing, lies or other major issues. Even people who end a relationship on generally good terms may still feel hurt and overwhelmed, and it can be hard to see the divorce clearly and objectively.
An amicable divorce is one where both parties can agree to terms of spousal support, child support, custody and the division of assets without needing a judge to make those decisions for you. An amicable divorce is always uncontested, meaning both parties agree that the marriage is over and are willing to work toward bringing it to a peaceful resolution.
In understanding a diplomatic divorce, it may be helpful to understand what it's not:
-- It doesn't mean that you'll both be friends. Although some divorcees are able to maintain friendships with their exes, this is not the norm (certainly not the level of friendship as before) and it's not something that you should expect.
-- It doesn't mean that the divorce will be painless. You have the right to grieve for the loss of your marriage, and nothing can take that right away from you. Approaching the divorce with a clear head will simply help resolve it quickly and without adding more pain.
-- It doesn't mean that you'll get everything you want. A diplomatic divorce is fair, which means both sides will come out mostly even. Neither party really "wins" a divorce, so don't expect to leave the proceedings feeling triumphant.
Once you understand what an amicable divorce really is, it becomes easier to see why it's the best choice. If you can, you should always strive to end your marriage on a diplomatic note; this is doubly important if you have children and plan to share custody.
Why Get a Diplomatic Divorce?
One of the best reasons to try for an amicable divorce is so that your children's lives are as unaffected as possible. Divorce puts a huge strain on families, and children have an especially difficult time adjusting. If you can end the relationship in a way that enables you to communicate civilly, it will be easier for your children to adjust to their new lifestyle. It will also make sharing custody more bearable, and you won't have as much resentment every time you see each other.
Children aren't the only reason to have a diplomatic divorce, however. Even if you don't have children, you can benefit from an equal agreement about dividing your assets and arranging spousal support. Moreover, settling a divorce amicably will provide both members of the couple more control over the separation of property, custody and other important matters.
When a divorce goes to court, the judge ultimately decides who should be granted what. While the judge will attempt to divide assets fairly, the division may not be ideal for both parties. If you can come to an agreement outside of court, you will be better prepared for the terms of the divorce and have more freedom and flexibility than if a judge decided the terms of your divorce for you.
It will also make the divorce process itself much faster and easier. Uncontested divorces are settled quickly, and if you agree to things in advance, you won't have to spend as much time in court. This will save you time, money and frustration and allow you to begin building your new life without devoting so much time to divorce proceedings.
How to Have a Diplomatic Divorce
The first key to having a successful diplomatic divorce is to choose an attorney who can help you with the process. Make sure to choose an attorney who understands that you want to end the divorce easily and amicably. Some lawyers have a more aggressive approach that will make it harder to end the divorce diplomatically.
Once you've retained a lawyer, it's important to make sure that your ex is willing to end the marriage diplomatically and knows what that will involve. Try to have a discussion with them about your wishes so that you can set realistic expectations. Being in agreement about having an amicable divorce will make the rest of the process much easier.
In some cases, if you and your ex are on the same page, you may be able to resolve the entire divorce without going to court. Both members of the couple will fill out the necessary paperwork, exchange documents and work through difficulties as they arise. Generally one person will file for the divorce and the other will accept it. This is called a pro se divorce and requires negotiation and open communication, but you might find it worthwhile.
If a pro se divorce is too difficult, a collaborative divorce may make more sense. In this case, both members of the couple will retain lawyers and handle all communication through these attorneys. This allows the negotiation to take place outside of court, allowing a couple to resolve the marriage as peacefully as possible and retain more control over the divorce itself.
Using attorneys as negotiators is a good compromise for couples who want to end a divorce diplomatically but are unable to collaborate with each other to complete the process. This ensures that both parties are treated fairly in the divorce without requiring the individuals to do all of the legwork for the divorce themselves. Of course, this will only work if both attorneys are on the same page. If your spouse retains a cut-throat, aggressive lawyer, the negotiation may not go smoothly and you may end up in court after all.
No matter how you decide to handle your divorce, you may be required by the state to go through mediation. The mediator is a neutral third party who will help negotiate the divorce whether or not you decide to retain an attorney. If you both agree that mediation is unnecessary, the district will usually waive the requirement, but a mediator may be able to help you work out the requirements of your divorce.
A Diplomatic Divorce is the Only Way to Go
Whenever possible, it's best to have an amicable divorce. It may be difficult to see this at first, especially if there's a lot of anger about the situation, but it's important to separate the failed marriage from the divorce in your mind. Ultimately, a divorce is not about the relationship; a divorce is the separation of finances, property and activities. It's more like dissolving a business partnership.
By approaching the divorce rationally and treating it diplomatically, as if you were negotiating a treaty, you can arrive at a solution that will benefit both partners as equally as possible. What "equally" means will vary from one couple to the next; for some, it might mean that one person gets alimony payments until they're able to recover from the financial impact of losing spousal support. For others, it might mean simply selling all belongings and dividing the profits equally.
This is where keeping a level head and considering your future is vital to an amicable divorce. Rather than worrying about blame or punishment, you can focus purely on the task of dividing assets fairly and moving on with the least possible amount of pain for you, your ex and your family.
And of course, you can always ask your divorced friends (we all have them) what is the best way to go. Odds are all of them would have gone the diplomatic way if they had the time back.