Can divorce ever really be amicable
Can divorce ever really be amicable
One often hears the expression ‘amicable divorce’. It seems like a contradiction. After all, divorce entails the breakdown of the relationship between the spouses. Surely, that means that the divorce will be characterised by animosity, rather than good will?
Well, not necessarily.
The answer to the question as to whether a divorce can really be amicable depends of course upon the parties, and whether they are both prepared to proceed in an amicable fashion. If the other party is not prepared to adopt such an approach, then an amicable divorce may not be possible.
But the approach that you take towards the divorce can also improve the chances of it being amicable.
Here are four things to consider:
The first, and perhaps most obvious, piece of advice is to put your feelings to one side, and concentrate upon being constructive in your dealings with your spouse.
There will be much that needs to be sorted out: the divorce itself (see below), arrangements for any dependent children, and resolving financial and property matters. If you can adopt a non-confrontational approach to these matters, then it is much more likely that you will be able to sort them out by agreement, saving yourself the time, expense and stress of contested court proceedings.
Our lawyers are members of Resolution, the largest membership organisation for family justice professionals in England and Wales. Resolution members sign up to a Code of Practice, promoting a non-confrontational approach, which results in better outcomes for families and children.
Of course, it is not always possible to agree matters directly with your spouse, even through solicitors.
However, there are other ways to sort things out in a way that avoids the conflict and confrontation of contested court proceedings.
One such way is family mediation, whereby a couple meet with an independent mediator, who will assist them to discuss and resolve the issues that they wish to resolve.
Mediation is purely voluntary, but if you want an amicable divorce, why not consider using it to sort out arrangements for children and finances?
At present we have a divorce system whereby if you have not been separated from your spouse for two years then you can only proceed with a divorce by blaming them for the breakdown of the marriage, either because of their adultery or because of their ‘unreasonable behaviour’. Needless to say, attributing blame in this way can make an amicable divorce less likely.
But there are ways around this. You could, for example, sort out arrangements regarding children and finances now, and agree to divorce without blame after two years have elapsed from the date of the separation. Alternatively, you could try to agree allegations of ‘unreasonable behaviour’ with your spouse, before issuing the divorce proceedings.
Of course, if the Government’s Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Bill passes, then we will have a no-fault divorce system in which it will never be necessary to attribute blame for the breakdown of the marriage. However, it is still likely to be some time before the Bill becomes law, as we explained in this post.
Put children first
Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, when dealing with your spouse put your children first. This does not just mean put them first when sorting out arrangements as to what time the children will spend with each parent. Other decisions will also affect the children, for example decisions regarding the former matrimonial home. And remember that children will be affected by animosity between their parents.
If your spouse sees you putting the interests of the children before your own then they are obviously likely to realise how important it is that the children’s interests should come first. They are therefore more likely to adopt a similar approach, making an amicable divorce more likely.
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If you follow these simple rules then the chances of achieving an amicable divorce will be much greater, and of course if both parties follow these rules then an amicable divorce is quite possible.