Divorce is never easy, but an amicable divorce is possible, and it starts with you and your choices.
1. Focus on the future
Once you decide to get divorced, there is no point in rehashing all the things that led to the marriage breakdown and/or blaming your spouse for the part they played. This will only stir negative emotions and make divorce settlement more difficult – and the longer you take to settle, the more expensive, time-consuming and emotionally taxing it becomes. When you get divorced, the point is not to make the other party understand or admit that they were at fault – that ship has sailed after you have agreed that the marriage has broken down beyond repair despite reflection or therapy. Once the decision is made to get divorced, the point is to finalise the divorce as quickly and cost-effectively as possible. The main focus should be dividing the assets/debt, making arrangements in your children’s best interests, preparing for a new life post-divorce, etc.
2. Be willing to negotiate
Divorce is never a win-win situation. Neither party will be 100% happy with what they walk away with since both parties would need to make concessions (give-and-take) for a settlement to be reached. Both parties must understand that compromising is necessary. In that spirit, an amicable settlement is easier to obtain. Be prepared to discuss the divorce’s terms and negotiate in good faith.
3. Be patient
An uncontested divorce goes relatively quickly (6-10 weeks). However, this does not mean that parties shouldn’t take their time considering their options and rights insofar as it relates to the financial consequences of the divorce and the arrangements concerning the children. What you agree to now will impact your life post-divorce; plus, it is expensive to fix, reverse or amend a divorce decree after it has been granted, so now is the time to pay attention and weigh proposals. Conversely, if your spouse needs extra time to consider your settlement proposal, allow it. Divorce can be overwhelming, and feeling pressured to sign anything might reduce your chances for an amicable divorce settlement. Furthermore, signing a settlement agreement that you have been rushed into will most likely lead to more litigation in the future, which you want to avoid at all costs.
4. Go for mediation
If all else fails one-on-one, you must consider mediation before rushing into expensive, contested divorce litigation. Although mediation remains voluntary, the court will penalise you if you refuse to consider mediation for no good reason – you might even be ordered to pay the other party’s legal costs, especially if mediation could have resolved the issue instead of expensive litigation. An independent divorce mediator can guide you and your spouse towards an amicable settlement.
5. Separate your emotions from the process
This might be easier said than done. Focus on the facts and outcome of the divorce rather than allowing emotions to navigate the process. An amicable divorce does not mean you admit fault or are taking the blame for the marriage breakdown, nor do you have to forgive and forget (this part is best dealt with in therapy and not during divorce settlement negotiations). It also does not mean that your spouse has to admit fault; an amicable divorce only means that you and your spouse will not be fighting over assets, the children, etc., and is prepared to sign a settlement agreement that encapsulates your agreement.
6. Choose the right divorce attorney
Divorce does not have to be a drawn-out financial and emotional nightmare. Appoint an experienced and reliable divorce attorney who strives to finalise divorces in an amicable manner without unnecessary litigation or delays. The attorney must have the children’s best interests at heart and encourage settlement. Speak to friends and family for recommendations, and pay attention to reviews. Click here for more great tips about choosing your divorce attorney.