The divorce process does not have to be acrimonious. The divorce will only become acrimonious if the parties or their lawyers act in an aggressive or unreasonable fashion that could lead to mistrust and anger on both sides.
This firm deals with many cases that are dealt with amicably but of course this does so much depend on the approach by the clients.
How An Amicable Divorce Is Possible
The best way to have an amicable divorce is for both of you to be clear that you will work towards a stress-free and amicable outcome as soon as possible and will strategically decide between you how this can be achieved.
- The foremost way in which an amicable divorce can occur is if both parties agree who is to the Petitioner and who is to be the Respondent in the divorce proceedings themselves. Psychology should also be applied in these cases. If one or other of the parties would find being the Respondent highly inflammatory then it is very important, they are given the opportunity to be the Petitioner if it will stop matters from getting out of control.
Parties often do not understand that communication between them is very important at all times. They will always continue to be the parents of the children and therefore not discussing things between them could lead to misunderstandings at the earliest time. In these circumstances there is no harm for the parties to sit down and discuss who is to be the Petitioner and the Respondent and the contents of the Petition. If there is grounds for adultery, then the party who has admitted adultery should be prepared to offer a confession statement simply limited to when, where and what dates approximately so that it can be utilised to obtain a Decree.
In the case for a Petition for unreasonable behaviour, there is nothing to stop the parties from discussing what the contents of such a Petition will be. To obtain the most amicable result, a very anodyne or mild Petition can be put into the court with the consent of both parties, if this is not going to be defended. This should be discussed so that both parties will find the wording acceptable and not upsetting or undermining.
If the circumstances are available for a 2 year separation Petition with consent, then both parties should agree to proceed in this way and simply discuss who is to be the Petitioner or Respondent. In every case it is possible for there to be an amicable and sensible outcome to all parts of the divorce proceedings if both parties are willing.
- Once the issue of the Petition has been ascertained to work towards an early Decree Nisi, the issue then arises of how the parties are going to deal with the financial aspects arising out of the divorce and/or the children. These days a lot of people agree that there should be shared care of the children of the family. This does not mean necessarily equal time but both of them will input to the needs of the children of the family. Parties should be aware that the more days that the children stay over with your spouse who has moved out of the home, the less likely you are to obtain child maintenance because it could have an impact. The nights that children spend with the absence spouse will be deducted from child maintenance. However, in order to maintain an amicable stance, you could reach agreement with your spouse that notwithstanding the amount of time that the children spend that he or she will continue to pay the same amount of child support. This then overrides the difficulty.
- If there is to be a regime in relation to the children, then this should be discussed so that there is a workable arrangement going forward bearing in mind that one or both of you may enter into new relationships. Sometimes the parties draw up parenting memorandum which sets out all about when visits will take place, holidays, how all of these will be divided etc. Parties should also deal with grandparent contact at the same time as it is always prudent to think about how grandparents are to see the children and whether they will simply be worked into the arrangements of the parents.
- Financial matters can be dealt with in many different ways. If the parties decide that they want to enter into mediation, there will have to be an exchange of financial information to assist the mediator in reaching an agreement together with the parties. Mediators do like the parties to have had legal advice in due course and so it is usual once there has been an exchange of financial information for both parties to take legal advice so that they can be advised on the parameters of a sensible and fair settlement. This will allow the parties to go back into mediation satisfied that they know that has been negotiated and is fair. If an agreement can be reached in mediation, then the lawyers will simply draw up that agreement.
- If the parties feel that mediation is not suitable in the first instance, they can deal with matters by way of voluntary disclosure on financial documentation known as Form E. Once there has been full financial disclosure, Questionnaires and all the financial information has been provided, then it is open for both parties to be advised by their respective legal advisers and/or Counsel as to the parameters for settlement and to commence negotiations. Quite often this can be achieved by round table meetings between solicitors and clients so that the settlement agreement can be drawn up all in one go to reduce costs.
- There are times the parties may both agree that the matter should go to court because they want a Judge to decide how the assets should be divided and they will both agree to accept what the Judgment ultimately will be. Again the process is simplistic. Both parties will upon one of the parties filing a financial application give full financial disclosure and there is a process that is to be worked through. If the parties are amicable and sensible then an agreement can be reached at the earliest possible time. Sometimes if both parties co-operate the First Appointment can be merged into the second hearing which is known as a Financial Dispute Resolution hearing to save costs and if all parties come along with a view to settling, matters can be settled at the earliest possible time.
- Another procedure that was introduced through America is known as collaborative law. This allows the parties and their legal advisers to sign up to the fact that they will never go to court and will have as many meetings as is necessary to reach an overall settlement. Sometimes in the collaborative process the parties will jointly take advice from Counsel as to what would be a suitable and fair settlement or it can be agreed that each of them will take their own separate advice from a Counsel but share the information to reach agreement. There are many collaborative lawyers, including those at this firm, who have carried out successful collaborative procedures which can then be turned into a Consent Order endorsed by the court.
- Arbitration is a new method to consider a settlement but only if both parties are happy that there is no appeal against that decision. It is unlikely that it will be the best route to obtain an amicable divorce and is not the most popular choice to be undertaken.
- In order to achieve an amicable divorce settlement and proceedings generally, it is really vital that you avoid mud slinging letters between solicitors or evoking corresponding that seeks to undermine one or other of the parties or seeks to suggest that the children prefer one to another. All of this kind of correspondence is unhelpful and inflammatory.
- The antithesis to having an amicable divorce is to unleash a lawyer to write offensive, unhelpful correspondence that seeks to undermine both the solicitor on the other side and the other party. This will only create an environment for arguments and difficulties and substantial costs.