How To Avoid an Ugly Divorce
While filing for divorce means you and your spouse will no longer be married, the process of getting divorced does not have to be ugly. It can be beneficial to keep things amicable, especially if you have children, because you and your ex must continue to communicate after the divorce is over.
How you can get through a divorce that remains civil depends on the specific circumstances of your divorce. A family law attorney can help you through this process.
Even if you and your spouse agree on the need for a divorce, the process does not always go smoothly. There are numerous financial and emotional issues that can cause friction during a divorce, including:
- Whether one of you deserves alimony
- Determining child custody and pet custody
- Deciding who gets the house
- How to divide any debts
- Friends and family giving unwelcome input
- Employment concerns
- If you or your ex are already in new relationships
- Lack of communication
Divorce can be a stressful experience and something a lot of people have strong opinions about. Friends and family may mean well, but their advice is not always helpful. By going into a divorce with a plan, you may be able to keep things more civil and focused on a resolution. Keeping the lines of communication with your ex open can be a big help.
There are several options for divorce that will reduce the likelihood of the process turning ugly. The following are methods for divorce filing that increase collaboration and may reduce the adversarial nature of regular legal proceedings. They include:
- Filing a joint petition for divorce or for an uncontested divorce
- Using collaborative divorce or mediation
- Signing a prenuptial agreement or postnuptial agreement
Spouses may file a joint petition for divorce or an uncontested divorce with the court. In a joint petition, the spouses (with or without the help of their lawyers) have worked out the terms of their divorce and are simply asking for the court to approve their petition and legally end their marriage. By filing a joint petition, you must work together to develop an acceptable agreement.
Another benefit of an uncontested divorce is that it is faster and less expensive than a contested divorce. It provides a predictable outcome and keeps any disputes out of the public record. When a couple can agree to the terms and conditions of a divorce, it improves the chances of staying on better terms in the future. This is important if you will be sharing custody of your children, and which will require you and your ex to stay in touch for years after.
A collaborative divorce is an increasingly popular option for couples who cannot agree on all terms of the separation. Collaborative divorce, like working with a mediator, involves private negotiations outside of court conducted by an attorney specifically trained in facilitating a collaborative divorce. This is another way to keep any disagreements out of public records.
Even if you participate in mediation or collaborative divorce, you will still benefit from having your own lawyer present to ensure that all of your rights are protected before you consent to a legally binding agreement. Collaborative divorce and mediation both keep the focus on finding a solution that everyone can live with. Mediators and collaborative divorce attorneys know how to keep divorcing couples focused and working in good faith.
A premarital agreement can set out many of the terms of a divorce before you ever marry. This can help avoid many of the issues that might become contentious down the road. You and your spouse can also negotiate and sign a postnuptial agreement during your marriage.
For a prenuptial agreement to be enforceable, you must enter into it in good faith, and both you and your spouse must have a chance for legal counsel to examine it. If there is a dispute over the prenuptial agreement, the divorce process can become just as contentious as if you never signed one.
While it may seem that hiring a divorce lawyer would make things more adversarial, the reality is that a lawyer can help keep you focused on the important issues and keep emotions in check.
While a lawyer zealously represents your interests, the lawyer is not as emotionally invested in the marriage as you are. Feelings about your relationship can cloud judgment. An experienced divorce attorney can advise you to look at the bigger, long-term picture and help you end the marriage as amicably as possible.
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