Do amicable divorces really exist, or is that just what some couples claim in an attempt to hid their suffering and struggle? Can a divorce be painful, difficult, and even heartbreaking and still be amicable? And how can two people work toward an amicable divorce for the sake of their children and their own health?

Amicable divorces are certainly possible. While amicable divorces absolutely aren’t free of hurt feelings, tough times, and tears, they do tend to avoid shouting matches, low blows, and a messy court battle. Amicable divorces can be easier on your kids, easier on your bank account, and easier on you, too. In addition, amicable divorces are more likely to lead to a friendly (or at least hospitable) relationship with your ex after your divorce – a relationship that will hopefully let you parent better and heal faster.

How can you and your spouse work toward an amicable divorce?

•    Don’t get personal. After you have decided to divorce, try to let go of the past conflicts and arguments and instead try to focus on moving ahead and resolving the loose ends of your marriage. The fight is over. Now is a time for compromise and solutions.
•    Meet in a neutral location. A divorce should mean business – not a continuation of the fights that might have led you to this decision. Meeting in your marital home or a spouse’s new apartment is a poor choice, as is meeting at an old favorite restaurant or coffee shop. Go somewhere new and non-offensive.
•    Make a list of things you agree upon. If you both know what you want to do with the marital home, or with the dog, or with the boat, start there. Beginning your discussions on a positive note can help you feel more optimistic and lend itself to further teamwork.
•    Try to see things from your spouse’s shoes. This is one of life’s hardest lessons, but having empathy for others is one of the best ways to begin to heal. If both of you can start to understand the other’s feelings, you can begin to compromise and work through the most difficult aspects of your divorce together – even after you have decided that your marriage is no longer working.
Molly B. Kenny
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Divorce and Child Custody Attorney Serving Bellevue and Seattle Washington