What Is an Amicable Divorce?
If you go looking for an amicable divorce definition or search for “amicable divorce meaning,” you will likely come across resources about how to have a friendly divorce. Even though you and your spouse agree that you can no longer continue to live together or be married, you can still manage a peaceful divorce that is premised on your respect for each other. You do not have to be enemies, but you also do not have to be best friends to pull off an amicable divorce.
An amicable divorce does not necessarily mean that you and your spouse agree about everything. However, you and your spouse are capable of working through disagreements either with each other or the assistance of lawyers, mediators, counselors, or other professionals. This allows you to reach an amicable divorce agreement without resorting to using the courts to sort out the terms of your divorce.
Is a Friendly, Amicable Divorce Possible?
An amicable divorce is possible for many people. It is estimated that upwards of 95% of divorces are uncontested. However, all uncontested cases are not necessarily amicable. A case can be considered uncontested as long as by the time you get a divorce that you enter into an agreed-upon divorce settlement without a trial in front of the judge.
In contrast, an amicable divorce is a peaceful divorce. You and your spouse might not agree about everything, but you are able to work together toward the mutual goal of leaving the marriage with your dignity intact. Be prepared with the following amicable divorce checklist to increase the odds of achieving a friendly divorce:
- Keep your eye on the prize of obtaining an amicable divorce.
- Treat your spouse with respect and dignity.
- Add experts to your team and be willing to receive their feedback.
- Be upfront and honest about all financial disclosures.
- Be willing to compromise where possible.
- Exchange information voluntarily and openly without requiring formal discovery.
- Focus on your child’s best interests, if applicable.
- Keep your commitment not to litigate your case.
Establishing A Code Of Conduct
Establishing a code of conduct between the spouses is more common in amicable divorce cases. Implementing and adhering to a code of conduct is one effective method on how to get through a divorce amicably.
Your code of conduct can give you and your spouse rules to follow during the amicable divorce process, as well as in the years to come. Some of these rules may include:
- Do not talk negatively about the other parent around your children.
- Keep your children out of the divorce.
- Provide open access and opportunity to keep and maintain a positive relationship between the children and each parent.
- Do not fight in front of the children.
- Do not use your children as messengers to communicate with the other parent.
- Do not curse at or to each other.
- Let the other spouse know promptly if you will be unable to exercise a scheduled visitation.
- Provide necessary information to the other spouse when requested.
- Avoid personal attacks when disagreeing about a topic involved in your divorce.
You can use these rules as a guide to help you create your own code of conduct that works best for your family.
What Is an Amicable Divorce Settlement?
An amicable divorce settlement will include your agreement about the following:
Financial Issues in an Amicable Divorce
There may be several financial issues that you need to resolve as part of your divorce, such as:
- Whether spousal support will be paid, and by whom and in what form
- Will life insurance be required to protect your interest in spousal support
- How to divide funds in bank accounts
- How and whether to divide funds in retirement accounts
- How expenses will be paid during the divorce process
- Which property will each spouse receive
- Whether to sell the marital residence and other real property
- When one spouse will sign a deed over for real property or a title for personal property
- When a spouse must refinance joint debt
- How the other spouse will be compensated for their share in real property
- Which spouse will be responsible for each debt
- How tax returns will be filed while the case is pending and which spouse will claim the children as dependents on tax returns
- Requirements to maintain insurance before and after the divorce
Issues Involved in an Amicable Divorce with Child
If you have children, your amicable divorce settlement will include information related to the care and support of your children, including:
- Which parent will have primary physical custody of the child
- Where the child will live
- Which parent or parents will have the legal right to make decisions about the child
- How you and the other parent will resolve an issue when you do not agree
- Parenting time for each parent during a typical week, weekends, holidays, school vacations, and special occasions
- How much child support will be paid and by which parent
- How extracurricular activities, college expenses, educational expenses, medical expenses, and childcare expenses will be divided between the parents
- Which parent will be responsible for travel expenses if you live far apart
Benefits Of An Amicable Divorce
There are several benefits of an amicable divorce over a litigated one, including:
The amicable divorce cost is often significantly less than the cost of a contested divorce. Most divorce attorneys charge per the hour, and the more hearings you have or motions you must file, the more hours your attorney will be working and the more you will be required to pay. Additionally, you may have other expenses with a contested divorce, such as costs to hire experts, discovery costs, subpoena fees, and other expenses. Whereas a simple, amicable, and uncontested divorce can often be completed for less than $1,000, a contested case is likely to cost thousands of dollars or even tens of thousands of dollars, depending on the issues involved and how long it takes to resolve them.
Ending a marriage amicably also helps resolve the case much faster than if it is contested. If you and your spouse can reach an amicable divorce settlement, it is mainly a matter of scheduling a brief meeting with the judge to review your agreement and finalize your divorce. You can skip the months or years of delay that a contested case creates.
A traditional, litigated divorce often consists of the following steps:
- Once spouse files a petition, asking the court for a divorce.
- The other spouse is served with the petition and a summons.
- The other spouse has a certain amount of time to respond to the divorce.
- The other spouse may file a counterclaim for divorce.
- Both spouses may file motions for temporary relief during the pendency of the case.
- The spouses may engage in formal discovery.
- The spouses may have to complete answers and provide information in response to discovery.
- The spouses may file motions if the other spouse is not cooperating during the discovery process.
- The court may have several settlement or status conferences while the case is pending.
- Depositions may be conducted on each spouse and other witnesses.
- There may be one or more hearings in front of the judge.
- The judge issues an opinion.
- One or both spouses may appeal the judge’s decision.
In contrast, an amicable divorce process is often much shorter. Depending on the state, one or both spouses petition the court for the divorce. The other spouse can waive the requirement to be legally served with the divorce papers. Once completed, the spouses can submit the property settlement agreement, parenting plan, and any other required documents to the court for review. A brief meeting can be scheduled as soon as the assigned judge is available to finalize the divorce.
Better For The Kids
If you and your spouse have children together, you may be co-parents for the foreseeable future. Children who are shielded from conflict during and after the divorce process are often better adjusted and can avoid some of the problems associated with children of divorce. After all, your children will not have nightmares about the scary courtroom battle, of being cross-examined by your attorney, or of being interrogated by a guardian ad litem. Having an amicable divorce can help you minimize the trauma your children experience.
When you have an amicable divorce and are an active part in creating your divorce settlement, you have greater control of the process. You can also avoid having the judge make an unfavorable decision in your case.
Do You Need A Lawyer For An Amicable Divorce?
Even if your divorce is mostly amicable, it is still a good idea to have a lawyer on your side. He or she can answer any questions you have about the divorce process, guide the divorce process, advise you of your rights, and help advance your case. Divorce can have significant financial and legal consequences, so it is important that you understand proposals before agreeing to them.
Mediation is an alternative dispute resolution method that involves a neutral third party who facilitates communication between you and your spouse while keeping your case out of court.
Even in some situations when the spouses can have an amicable divorce, mediation may still be required. Some states require all spouses to complete mediation while others require spouses who have minor children to go through the mediation process. Even when mediation is not required, it can still be helpful in assisting the spouses to reach mutually-beneficial agreements.
Amicable Divorces Can Still Hurt
Even though an amicable divorce is a more peaceful divorce, it can still hurt. You may not be able to be friends with your ex immediately after your divorce. Your relationship may mirror one of business associates who are both focused on the goal of raising well-adjusted children. However, an amicable divorce can potentially resolve issues much nicer, easier, and faster, which can help you begin your healing process sooner as you approach the next chapter of your life.