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How to Have a Peaceful Divorce - 3 Crucial Questions in Your Peaceful Divorce Plan

peaceful divorce May 10, 2022

Have you heard the saying, “Failing to plan is planning to fail”? Usually it's used with businesses and time management.

It also applies when you want to know how to have an amicable divorce.

If you don’t plan how to have a peaceful or amicable divorce, or if you:

        (i) hire a lawyer almost as soon as you separate, or

        (ii) represent yourself and start a court action as soon as possible after you separate, 

most likely your divorce will be characterized by fighting, misery, and drama. This applies if you are married, or if you have been living “common law”.

I planned how to have a peaceful divorce, and achieved this goal.

Now I’m sharing the 3 questions I used to create a peaceful divorce. Here they are.


1. What Can You Afford to Pay for Your Divorce?

Figure this out. Know what your income is and what your spouse’s income is. Learn about your debts and monthly payments, and about your investments and pensions. Think of how you can cut expenses, since your standard of living will be affected by having two households instead of one.

 If you don’t know how much money you can afford, likely you will over spend. It is much the same as going to a car dealership when you haven’t figured how much you have available for a car payment; you get caught up in the excitement, and before you know it, you're locked in to a long-term debt that is more than you wanted to spend.

Figure out what you can afford to spend before you hire a lawyer, who likely will charge you between $300 - $600 per hour. If you hire a lawyer as soon as you separate, you're more likely to end up in court  early in the process. It's very different (and less expensive) if you try to resolve the issues collaboratively through mediation.

If you know you only have $5,000 as a family to spend on your divorce, you'll not be able to afford the court processes unless you divorce amicably.

Knowing what you can afford, you will be drawn to peaceful processes instead of starting by hiring a lawyer to represent you.

A good resource to help with this is the "Divorce Preparation Workbook" I have created. If you'd like a copy, please send an email to [email protected], asking for this resource. I'll send it to you, free of charge.


2. How Can You Support Your Children's Relationship with Their Other Parent during divorce?

From practicing family law, I came to understand that conflict harms children more than anything else.

Working on one child protection case, I learned that children love their parents no matter what the parent does. The facts in that case, and in the cases where I observed parents caught in conflict, and the impact the conflict had on the children, were seared on my brain.

Conflict harms children far more than having less contact with one parent than the other.

I wanted something better for my children. I knew they needed a relationship with their father. I decided to support them achieve this.

Two things helped me.

(a)    Set a Positive Goal about Your Children and Their Other Parent

I set a goal that my children have the best relationship possible with their father. 

I didn't know how it would look or how we would make it work. It was difficult for me (I didn't even want to look at him).

Yet with this goal, I became committed to supporting my former spouse’s relationship with our children.

When you commit to your children having the best relationship possible with the other parent, and when you understand that conflict harms children more than anything else, it makes it easier for you to be peaceful and respectful of your spouse.

It's easier to create an amicable divorce.

(b)    If You Can’t Say Anything Nice, Don’t Say Anything

Words have power. If you call the other parent a loser, or say that s/he is stupid, or that the children hate her/him, you are creating a war. If you do this, you will be fighting in court for many years, even if you do not have the money to do so.

A personal attack does not work to create a peaceful divorce. Instead, it keeps your family stuck in conflict.

Identify statements that will create peace or which will diffuse conflict when you speak to your spouse.

For example, when I told my spouse I thought our marriage was over, I told him that we weren't bringing out the best in each other, and that it would be best for our children if he left. I also had supporting statements ready, to help him accept this reality.

Think about how you and your spouse talk to each other. Rehearse in front of a mirror, or ask a friend to help. Role play conversations where you use the peaceful statements, and your friend answers as your spouse.

If you plan and rehearse, you’ll be able to keep discussions respectful most of the time. This will really help you create a peaceful or amicable divorce.

A free resource to help you get started is the Divorce Script. Here's a link for you to sign up and receive it:

Get your Divorce Script now


3. What Can You Do to be the CEO of Your Divorce?

Most likely, you're feeling like a failure because your marriage is ending.

You're not a failure though. The relationship failed, not you. You remain the expert or CEO of your family. A lawyer has never met them. You're the best advocate for doing what will work for your children. 

Effective CEOs gather information from their own research and from others, balance opportunities and risks, and use the information they have gathered to make decisions. They're not afraid of bad news, and see challenges as opportunities.

You need to adopt the mindset of a CEO, and include it in your plan of how to have a peaceful divorce. This is how you keep your power through a difficult process.

Just like any CEO facing a challenge, this part of your plan involves four steps.

(a)    Gather Good Information

You don't need to consult a lawyer to obtain legal information. There are many good sources online. Look for websites operated by government agencies or by non-profit organizations that create and share legal information with the public. Start doing this when you're thinking about divorce. Go to public talks too. This is another good source of information.

Don't rely on friends and family who have divorced, especially if their divorces took a long time and were full of conflict. What they tell you won’t help you create a plan on how to have a peaceful divorce.

Use these unbiased sources, and you will be acting like a CEO. This will help you have a peaceful divorce.

(b)    Ask Experts Questions

If you don’t understand all the information you have gathered, write down your questions. Who is the best person to answer your questions? Is it a lawyer? An accountant? A financial planner? A counsellor? Then consult with the appropriate expert, only to answer your questions. This is what a good CEO does, and it is a very effective practice if one wants to have a peaceful divorce.

If you feel more confident with a lawyer, it's a good idea to interview lawyers before you decide to hire one. You really need to trust your professional, and interviewing them is a good way for you to discover this. 

Here's a link to a short course (less than an hour) with "crib notes" to use when you interview lawyers you might want to work with:

Finding the Right Lawyer for Me Course

(c)     Balance Opportunities and Risks

Just like any CEO, you are the expert of your organization, which is your family. You already have set a goal for your children (see 2(a)). Take the information you have gathered, and apply it to your family’s situation.

Consider different legal options. For example, will your family be served best by a co-parenting arrangement that involves the children spending one week with one parent, and one week with the other parent? If the children are very young and one of you works shift work, another arrangement may work better for your family.

Try to do this with your spouse. Share the information, your goals, and talk about the different options. Listen to the information he has, and his goals. You may learn that you have more in common than you thought.

(d)    Make Decisions

You and your spouse know best what will work for your family. Try to agree to as many issues as possible. When you’re in control and both contributing to the outcome, you will have a peaceful divorce.


Conclusion

If you fail to plan, likely you will spend more than you can afford. Once you start fighting, the process will take at least two years to come to trial, with court applications before then. There may be an appeal. Neither of you may like the decision made by the courts. By the end, you will not even want to look at your former spouse! You will be locked in a pattern of conflict. This is emotionally and financially draining.

But if you have children, you need to keep interacting with the other parent! The process and the results are grim, and costly financially and emotionally.

Having a peaceful divorce is possible if you plan.

I did it. We were a family in crisis before my spouse and I stopped living together. I acknowledged this before my spouse did. He was reluctant to separate and to divorce. It could have been ugly, and full of conflict. It wasn't.

We divorced peacefully, and now our lives are very different. Each of us lives a joyful and abundant life. My former spouse and I attend parent-teacher interviews (3 way conferences) together, and can sit beside each other at children’s activities. When I lost my job, he even told me about a contract opportunity!

We get along much better and communicate more effectively because we don’t live together, and because we planned how to have a peaceful divorce.

This would not have happened if I didn’t plan how to create a peaceful divorce. Luckily, I had practiced family law, so I knew what our legal rights and responsibilities were, and had learned from my clients.

I knew what the usual trigger points were, I knew how the court usually responded to arguments over children, I saw the distress caused by large legal bills, and I learned that children always love both parents, no matter what. I was trained in mediation and collaborative dispute resolution processes too, and had some training in one method of counselling, and experiences a judo coach.


This meant I could think "outside the box", and create a peaceful process. My husband saw the merit in this approach, and did not resort to fighting.

I’ve shared the crucial questions I asked when creating a plan on how to have a peaceful divorce, and hope you find it useful.

Sometimes we all need more than written resources. If this feels like you, and you'd like to talk to me about your situation, I offer a complimentary 20 minute initial consultation. All you need to do is click on this link, and sign up on a date and time that works for you.

 Book your complimentary session

 

 

Choose Peace.

Sign up now for Kim's free "Divorce Script" and plan how to tell your spouse you want a divorce. 

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