While a divorce clearly indicates that a couple no longer wants to be married, the process of getting divorced does not have to be ugly. Often, particularly if there are children from the marriage, it is important to keep things amicable because the divorced spouses must continue to communicate after the divorce is finalized. Just how that can be accomplished depends on the circumstances of the divorcing couple. Below are some ways that spouses can end their marriage as smoothly as possible:
· File a Joint Petition for Divorce: 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, the spouses must work together to develop an acceptable agreement and neither spouse is blindsided by an expected divorce filing. Furthermore, the spouses are kept from testifying against each other in divorce proceedings and the intimate details of their relationship can be kept private.
· Seek the Help of a Mediator: if a couple cannot agree to the terms of a joint divorce petition, they may find it helpful to seek the assistance of a mediator who can help them agree to the terms of a divorce without a formal court proceeding. Couples who participate in mediation often benefit from being represented by counsel to ensure that all of their rights are protected before they provide their consent to a legally binding mediated agreement.
· Consult Your Prenuptial Agreement: if you and your spouse entered a premarital agreement prior to getting married then many of the issues that seem contentious may have already been decided by that agreement. Many prenuptial agreements are executed not only to protect one’s property but to avoid an ugly divorce. However, in order for a prenuptial agreement to have that effect it must have been entered into in good faith and be fair to both spouses. If there is a dispute over the prenuptial agreement the divorce process can actually become more contentious than it would otherwise be without a premarital agreement.
· Hire a Lawyer: while it may seem that hiring a lawyer would make things more adversarial, the reality is that a lawyer can help focus his or her client on the important issues and keep emotions in check. While a lawyer zealously represents his or her client’s interests, he lawyer is not as emotionally invested in the marriage as the client. Thus, the lawyer can advise the client to look at the bigger, long term picture and help the client end the marriage as amicably as possible.
Divorce can be a very difficult and emotional time. By trying to work with the spouse whom you are divorcing, looking at previously executed premarital contracts, and seeking the assistance of skilled mediators and experienced lawyers many couples are able to avoid unpleasant divorce proceedings.
The information on this page is meant to provide a general overview of the law. The laws in your state and/or city may deviate significantly from those described here. If you have specific questions related to your situation you should speak with a local attorney.