Navigating Divorce: Tips for an Amicable Separation

Navigating Divorce: Tips for an Amicable Separation

If your goal is to have the world’s prettiest and most photogenic divorce, it likely will not come to fruition. Having the world’s ugliest divorce is not an admirable and realistic goal, either, but worst of all is the goal of using your divorce case to destroy your ex in mind, body, and wallet.  Divorce is something you have to get through as best you can so that you can get to the next stage of your life, where you are free to be a complete person on your own. Much better in navigating divorce is striving for an amicable separation.

Whether your marriage ended with an explosive argument or a war of passive aggression, or whether you and your spouse spent the better part of a year calmly discussing the details of the divorce petition that you would submit to the court, your actions during the pendency of your divorce can prevent unnecessary conflict in the short term and after your divorce becomes final.  For help navigating the legal complexities and emotionally fraught aspects of your divorce and working toward an amicable divorce instead, contact a Seattle divorce lawyer.

Be honest with yourself about what you want and why you want it.

Happiness after divorce starts with emotional maturity and self-awareness. The time to start acting like an adult is now; your children and your bank account will thank you for it in the long run. 

Divorce and parenting plans are not about winning or losing. So do not insist on keeping the pickup truck just because you know your spouse wants it, especially not when it makes more sense for your spouse to keep the pickup truck and you to keep the SUV. Likewise, do not insist on having parenting time for the entirety of Thanksgiving break every year just because you know that your ex-spouse’s mother spends the whole year looking forward to decorating the Christmas tree on Black Friday.

Instead, imagine yourself five years from now. If you think it is important and economically feasible for you and your children to remain in the marital home, push for that. Not sweating the small stuff is even more important during divorce than it is at other times.

Divorce mediation is your big chance to prevent future legal disputes.

With the possible exception of mediators who feel that it is their calling to help couples resolve their differences without facing off at trial, no one enjoys divorce mediation. You probably just want to get it over with so that you can be legally single. This is a mistake, though. A hastily written marital settlement agreement or parenting plan leaves the door open for more conflict, and, in that scenario, perhaps it will take a trial to resolve the post-divorce dispute even if you finalized the original divorce case without going to trial.

It is not pleasant arguing with your spouse during divorce mediation about holiday travel or summer camp any more than it was pleasant to argue with your spouse about those things during your marriage. Still, it is essential to work out the details during mediation. This way, if your ex tries to mess with your holiday plans in a future year because her new in-laws insist that your children be at their house at 7:00 p.m. sharp for their family Elf on the Shelf ritual, you can point to your parenting plan, which is a legally binding court order, and say, “This won’t work today.”

If you cannot talk to your ex without a fight, communicate through your lawyer or a co-parenting app.

The lucky few are the former couples who can talk to each other calmly during every interaction between the time they file for divorce until their youngest child reaches adulthood and even beyond then. If your ex was stubborn, evasive, or manipulative during your marriage, do not expect them to turn over a new leaf just because you are getting divorced.

If you and your ex have minor children together, you will be in each other’s lives for the foreseeable future, whether you want to or not. Good parenting plans make good co-parents in much the same way as good fences make good neighbors. If at all possible, be KIND (kid-centered, informative, nice, and direct) to your ex-spouse. In other words, focus on your co-parenting relationship and do not get drawn into old conflicts or antagonize each other just because you are holding a grudge. Being KIND usually means keeping your conversations brief.

In some divorce cases, though, the wounds are so raw that parties cannot talk directly to each other without getting upset. If this describes your divorce, there are ways you can avoid confronting your ex directly. During divorce mediation, you can let your lawyers do the talking; it is a lot easier to talk openly with the attorney who is helping you accomplish your divorce than the ex-spouse who broke your heart. If you and your ex have already finalized your divorce, your constant conflict is as stressful to your children as it is for you. Do not use your children as intermediaries; the court will penalize you for this if you try. 

Instead, communicate with your ex by text message, where your ex’s facial expression and tone of voice cannot provoke your anger.  You can use a co-parenting app that archives your messages so that, if necessary, you can use them as evidence in court if you need to prove that your ex is not following your parenting plan or that the parenting plan needs modification. Sometimes, the court orders divorced parents who have a contentious relationship to communicate through co-parenting apps instead of talking to each other directly.

Contact Elise Buie Family Law about divorcing amicably.

There’s no denying that divorce is an emotionally charged life transition. But how you handle the divorce process sets the stage for how you live your life post-divorce, including how well you can co-parent with your ex. 

A family law attorney can help you accomplish your divorce peacefully in mediation. At Elise Buie Family Law, our skilled and experienced mediators understand the balance of what it means to be strong but empathetic and are here to help you navigate your separation amicably. Contact us at our Seattle office today to set up a consultation.

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