What is an amicable divorce and how do you know if an amicable divorce would work for you?
Get tips from divorce expert and founder of amicable, Kate Daly.
I’m not going to preach unrealistic platitudes at you – I didn’t have an amicable divorce myself, so I know this isn’t always easy. However, over the past three years of running amicable, I have worked with some amazing couples, and it’s their tips and advice I’ll share in this blog on how to untie the knot, amicably.
Can anyone have an amicable divorce?
More and more people understand the damage acrimony does to both them and their children and are looking for alternatives, but can anyone have an amicable divorce?
There are some key indicators that an amicable divorce or separation is possible for you:
- You both accept that the relationship is over and understand that there will be change.
- Both parties are prepared to compromise and are comfortable with an open and honest financial disclosure
- You both want to put the needs of family above your own
However, sometimes, an amicable divorce may not be possible if any of the following apply:
- Violence or abuse has been present on the relationship
- Your ex is hiding / not disclosing their assets
- Refusal to negotiate or compromise
- Mental health concerns
If you’re affected by any of the issues above, you should seek legal advice from a solicitor who can protect your interests through the court process.
An amicable divorce, means ending your relationship in the right way
If you’re going to have an amicable separation, then how you end the relationship really matters.
- Use therapy to help you decide if the relationship is over; or to part effectively. Don’t go to couples’ therapy to rescue the relationship if you know it’s over as this leaves your partner feeling deceived and angrier. Be honest – if it’s over; say so and use a therapist to help you both engage in an amicable parting.
- Tell your partner its over calmly and clearly. This is one of the most important conversations you will ever have. It’s important to think it through and plan what you are going to say. Plan a time when the kids aren’t around (create the situation if necessary) and a time when you won’t be interrupted or distracted. Consider how shocked your partner will be. The more surprised or shocked by your revelation your partner is, the longer it will take them to accept the divorce.
- It’s tempting to think that once you’ve decided to end the relationship that you need to sort everything out straightaway. You don’t. The first conversation is to convey one message and one message only. This is ‘it’s over, I’m sorry this is so hurtful, but I’m sure and I won’t change my mind’. Read more about how to tell someone you want a divorce here.
- Just because you’re ready to sort things out and move on, doesn’t mean your partner is. Understand as the instigator you may be in a very different position to that of your partner. You may have been thinking about this for months or years. They have to catch up and won’t be capable of making decisions about the future until they have processed the news. Rushing leads to intransigence and escalates problems and costs – the emotional toll can be very high – so learn to manage your frustration if things feel slow – rushing will cost you a great deal.
Take a look at the change curve below. Plot where you are and where your partner is. If either of you are too close to the beginning of the curve, it is wise to seek some help so you can both meet closer to the explore/commit stages before getting into in depth discussions on how to sort things out.
Tips for an amicable divorce – moving through the separation process
- Work through the tips outlined in the previous point before moving on. If you start negotiating before you’ve set the scene you will come unstuck and things will derail pretty quickly. Put the time in to end the relationship properly and in an adult way. You will save time in the long run. Recognise you and your partner may be feeling different things because you are in a different stage of the process (illustrated in the change curve above).
- Set goals to help you focus on the future and not dwell on the past. Goals create momentum and movement towards a new place and that’s important. Take some time to envisage where you want to be at the end of the divorce – paint a picture. Share your goals but don’t try and change each other’s – goals are individual and personal. Are there any common goals that can help you create a shared picture of the future – perhaps around your children?
- If you are going to separate before you divorce, then make some explicit agreements about finances and personal relationships. Technically you are committing adultery if you have another relationship whilst married even if you are separated so it’s better to agree how you will deal with new relationships before they occur. Being explicit about who will pay for what is also best done before anyone gets into debt or expectations are mis-matched.
- Understand what the law says about how assets are split on divorce. You can use amicable’s website or the government website for accurate information on the factors that are considered when splitting your finances. You’ll need to know what assets you have as a family so start to gather information and share it with your partner.
Remember – separate the emotions from the negotiations…what has led to the breakdown of the relationship in all but the most extreme cases will not lead to a greater share of the assets. So be realistic.
Remember – if there are things that were wrong during the marriage, then they aren’t magically going to disappear if you divorce or separate. If your relationship broke down because you failed to communicate then get some help to improve your communication through the divorce. If trust has been an issue, then re-build by making a point of doing what you say you will do no matter what. Your behaviour has much more impact than all the email words you write. So keep communication; short, civil, and focused on content not feelings.
And remember the prize for getting this right is the continuation of family life beyond your marital relationship … and we think that’s worth investing in.
What is amicable?
amicable is a divorce services company that was created after my acrimonious and expensive divorce. I’d experienced the divorce process both personally and professionally through working with London’s top collaborative divorce lawyers to help couples to emotionally prepare for the journey of separating.
I knew that the existing routes to separate didn’t always work for people, especially if there were kids involved. So, amicable was created to meet the demand of couples who were looking for a kinder, amicable way to separate that put kids first and didn’t cost the earth.