Monday, August 9, 2010

The Friendly Divorce

An article titled More Couples Opt for Friendly Divorce in Sunday's Detroit Free Press is the prompt for this post.  You can find the article here.  The main idea of this article is that while the majority of divorcing couples still use lawyers, more and more couples are choosing to do a mediation type of divorce rather than the standard court divorce.

My divorce consisted of me and my attorney, and my ex-husband and his attorney.  Also involved were accountants for each of us, a business appraiser, a realtor, and a home appraiser.    So between the two of us, the total cost of our divorce was, well, really expensive.   Probably very close to what our wedding and honeymoon cost. Sad, I know, very sad.

I wouldn't call my divorce 'friendly' just because of the simple fact that we were divorcing, so obviously there were issues between us and on top of that, pile on the division of assets, the division of debt, what to do with the house, drama regarding a business and child support.  So, friendly?  No.  But we kept our anger, frustration and problems away from our kids.  We were always amicable in front of the kids, it was not easy, but it was necessary.

The article suggests that a mediated divorce could cost just a thousand dollars.  And when you are at the start line of divorce, that can sound really enticing.  But there are a few things that need to be considered.
Divorce is usually a traumatic, emotional time and most of us don't think clearly or make the best of decisions
during traumatic, emotional times.  So to guide yourself and look out for the best interests of your kids through such an extremely life changing event without legal representation, seems risky and scary to me. 

The article also implies that lawyers "fight to get the best deals for their clients" and that can cause further pain and damage to an already faulty relationship.  In my case, yes, my attorney did fight for me but I didn't hire her to get me the best deal.  I didn't hire her to allow me to walk away with loads of assests and money.  I hired her to be fair.  It was never an interest of mine to gauge my ex-husband and our final divorce decree would prove that.  I hired her because I needed to be sure I was covering all my bases.  I needed someone who was looking out 100% for me and my best interests, which included my children. 

Once those official divorce papers are signed and you've agreed to A,B & C, it can be very costly and time consuming to get things changed or reversed.  Mediation or 'do it yourself' divorce kits might work for some but in my opinion, the majority of divorcing couples, especially those with kids, need the advice of attorneys. 

Where the "friendly" part of divorce is important is after the papers have been filed and you begin your new lives, separate from one another but still connected by your children.  The friendly part needs to come in during your day to day lives and the lives of your children. 

Divorce is the cutting of ties with your spouse, legally and hopefully emotionally.  Divorce is the end of two people as a couple and with that should come the burying of the issues that drove you there.  It isn't easy, trust me.  And it won't happen immediately.  It will take time, but eventually there needs to be a peace and calm that your children can put trust in.  Because any continuing friction between ex spouses just adds confusion and pain to the children.

I have struggled with the feeling of 'If I'm nice to him, he'll think I'm OK with ____________.'  I didn't want my ex-husband to think that I was OK with some of the things he had done.   But I slowly remembered and realized that I had clearly told him how I felt about all of those things.  Many times I told him how I felt and what I thought, and I used an awesome variety of language and gestures to help prove my point.  So it was time to just bury it.   I try to see him now no longer as my ex-husband but as my children's dad. And that really helps me be friendly and civil with him.

As with many of life's biggest events, every situation is different.  Most importantly, trust your feelings and your gut instincts. And if there are children involved, the 'friendly post divorce' is an important step to healing.    


  1. This is excellent information and i agree with you. I tried the mediation route with an attorney prepping me between appointments. Unfortunately I now have to move to the next level because mediation has stopped working for us. Part of me wishes I had just immediately worked towards finalizing this, but I really needed time to grieve. I don't think I would have made as good of decisions in those early months as I am capable of doing now.

    This is helpful for so many people. Will tweet this now!

  2. I had the friendliest divorce EVER - I didn't even have my own lawyer! But I was 24, we had no kids, and the assets were minimal.

    Also, I told him if he was quick about it i would not ask for alimony. the whole thing took half an hour.

    Haven't regretted it for a second, but I know my circumstances were very special and I'd never recommend it to someone else, esp not someone with children!

  3. Thank you for this post!!! I'm going through my own divorce right now, and I've constantly struggled with the pain involved in the process.

    Thanks again. :)

  4. This is a good post - I have a friend who is at the beginning of a nasty divorce and it is not pretty. I have another friend who is very good friends with her ex and it has been wonderful for their child.

  5. Well said. We went for an uncontested divorce and, yes it did save us money. Fortunately, we were able to broker our own compromises through the process and, a year later, we're probably better at co-parenting our kids than when we were married.

    With that in mind, I encourage folks to consider their own situation carefully. If you have trust issues with your spouse, or if there has been abuse of any kind, I strongly advise each side to obtain their own counsel.

  6. I think the lawyer rout really is the way to go. When I first saw the lawyer, almost 2 years ago he estimated that we should get everything done for the $1,500 retainer my parents put down. Now 2 years later I'm still trying to figure out how close to being done we really are. With out a lawyer I might have been divorced right now but he would have walked away with out me fighting him for things the kids deserve.

  7. I have two divorces. :( The first was ugly, U-G-L-Y. The second didn't even involve attorneys.

    Divorce is hard on everyone even if both parties want it. We (second) just realize that we are both good people and parents and we didn't have our own agendas i.e. money. Money is always the bottom line. He knows that I am not a gold digger so he didn't fight child support, we have a written visitation agreement but we go off of that on both sides if we need to.

    I wish everyone could have such an amicable divorce (HA, what an oxymoron) but human nature doesn't allow that - we are different people. Period.

    Good luck to everyone out there going through it. Keep your agenda mutual, EVEN IF the other party doesn't. It will help you in the end.

  8. I think that mediation is a terrific option, for those without children. Otherwise, I'm in total agreement with you. Emotions need a legal guad, and a moral and ethical advisor.

    Many hugs.

  9. My divorce was pretty simple. We had one lawyer, had everything agreed upon from the beginning, left out the Friend of the Court (because in Michigan they're not friends or friendly), and did everything we could ourselves.
    For us it's worked out fine and continues to. We're both in better places and happier then we were before. I even think we're becoming friends again.

  10. Basically marriage doesn't always work out,If we are talking about friendly divorce ,the divorce that seems least painful for all concerned is likely to be an end to the marriage from which both partners emerge with little to no rancor.