Amicable Divorce | How To Divorce Amicably

When you or your spouse decides it's time to divorce, getting along is usually the last thing on your mind. Seeing past the personal and financial toll of divorce to pursue an amicable divorce is not an easy decision, but it may be what's best for your family.

An amicable divorce doesn't mean you come out on the other side as best friends — or even acquaintances. The goal is to do as little harm as possible. In the long run, an amicable divorce could save you time, money and stress.

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Amicable divorce meaning

Amicable divorce means you come to an agreement on the terms of your divorce without litigating. Essentially, it's an uncontested divorce. The focus is on compromise rather than winning. You may not get everything that you want, but you get a fair agreement that you can live with.

Many spouses end up with acrimonious divorces (also called contested divorces) because they think it's the only option. As you prepare for divorce, making a conscious effort to work together can make a world of difference in the outcome of your divorce.

An amicable divorce isn't for everyone. If your spouse has been abusive, seek help from the local authorities so you can get the necessary protection for yourself and your children.

How to divorce amicably

Use the following guidelines to help you divorce amicably.

Have an amicable split before filing for divorce

You don't have to rush into filing for divorce. Take your time to talk to your spouse about the best way to amicably separate. Will you continue to live in the same home? How will you share time with the children?

Eventually, you can file for divorce together, which in some courts means you won't have to make any court appearances. Most courts require a separation period before a divorce is finalized.

Focus on the future rather than who is to blame

How long your divorce takes largely depends on how well you and your spouse can agree on.

Some spouses spend a lot of time fretting over who is to blame for the divorce rather than working to end their marriage. Pointing fingers will only create division. If you want an amicable divorce, you'll have to leave the past behind.

If you're a parent, moving on will also help your children cope with the divorce. The way you treat one another will impact your children's opinion of you and shape their future relationships.

Choose a dispute resolution method that suits you and your spouse

You and your spouse can negotiate an agreement on your own, or you can get professional help from a lawyer or an alternative dispute resolution professional.

Alternative dispute resolution (ADR) methods help you negotiate an agreement outside of court.

Divorce mediation focuses on facilitating a conversation between spouses so that they can reach a compromise. Mediation is generally accessible and affordable. Many courts and legal aid offices offer free or low-cost mediation services. Plus, it can help spouses learn to communicate better.

Collaborative law involves lawyers (one for each spouse) who help negotiate the terms of the divorce. Specialists like property appraisers may also be involved. This process can get expensive, but is good for spouses who need help speaking up for themselves.

In arbitration, each spouse presents arguments and evidence to an arbitrator who makes a final decision based on what they've heard. Arbitration is quite expensive and unavailable in some locations. Though it can be nice to have someone else make a decision, arbitration may elicit the same desire to "win" as a divorce trial.

Consider your options and choose a route with your spouse.

Don't expect everything to be perfect

You may still have some disagreements. Focus on the most important topics and the fairest ways to handle them. Getting too caught up in agreeing 100 percent will only distract you. Each of you will have to compromise.

Communicate effectively

Be mindful of your tone and how you communicate. If you're overly emotional, you may say something you'll later regret.

Also, figure out which mode of communication works best for you and your spouse. Sometimes, it's better to write out your thoughts as you'll have more time to think about what you're going to say.

Be mindful when hiring a lawyer

Lawyers are a valuable asset to divorcing spouses. However, bringing in a lawyer who is brash and litigious can make the process acrimonious. Choose a lawyer who prioritizes settlement over winning.

Consider waiting to hire a lawyer until after you begin to negotiate the terms of your agreement. A lawyer will protect your interests and make sure your agreement is fair, but "lawyering up" too early can make the process feel more hostile.

Amicable divorce checklist

  • Get support from friends and family but distance yourself from those who only seem interested in bashing your spouse.
  • Set boundaries to avoid confusion about your relationship status.
  • Prioritize the best interests of your children.
  • Work together to tell your children you're divorcing.
  • Write a list of areas where you're willing to compromise.
  • Research the divorce and custody laws in your area.
  • Gather important documents early on (e.g., marriage certificates, financial documents).
  • Be cooperative, and provide documents and other information as soon as you can.
  • Be honest, especially about your income.
  • Find common ground and work from there.
  • Choose an ADR method together.
  • File for divorce together, or let your spouse know if you're filing first.
  • If you hire a lawyer, find someone who prioritizes settling out of court.
  • Don't threaten your spouse (e.g., "If you don't give me what I want, you'll never see the kids again!").
  • Don't get caught up arguing over insignificant things.
  • Don't assume your spouse is out to get you or has bad intentions.
  • Include a term in your agreement that specifies how you will make changes to the agreement as needed.

Amicable divorce cost

The cost of an amicable divorce varies based on your location and needs.

Overall, amicable divorces tend to be cheaper than acrimonious divorces because:

  • You'll spend little to no time in in court, possibly appearing for one court date to confirm you consent to the agreement's terms.
  • There's no need to pay filing fees to request documents that your spouse is refusing to provide or to ask for interim orders while your case is pending.
  • It's easier to divorce without a lawyer if you have an amicable divorce — though it is recommended you still hire one to protect your rights.

You can save money by dividing costs. Some costs that can be split include:

  • Costs associated with ADR methods
  • Divorce filing fees
  • Expert analysis (e.g., property appraisal)

After your amicable divorce

If you don't have a child, you may not need to have much communication with your former spouse after you part ways.

But if you have a child with them, your divorce settlement is only the beginning of your new co-parenting relationship. A co-parenting app can be vital to making it work.

The Custody X Change online app has a thorough set of co-parenting tools: shared calendars, parent-to-parent messaging, expense tracking and more.

Turn to Custody X Change to ensure the best possible future for your child and your evolving family.

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Organize your evidence

Track your expenses, journal what happens, and record actual time. Print organized, professional documents.

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Our parent-to-parent messaging system, which detects hostile language, lets you collaborate without the drama.

Get an accurate child support order

Child support is based on parenting time or overnights in most jurisdictions. Calculate time instead of estimating.

Succeed by negotiating

Explore options together with visual calendars and detailed parenting plans. Present alternatives and reach agreement.

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