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Amicable Divorce - Is There Such a Thing?
An amicable divorce is synonymous with an uncontested or no contest divorce. Believe it or not, there is such a thing, and it works well in the appropriate contexts.
An amicable divorce may involve agreement on matters including, but not limited to, child custody, child support, visitation, spousal support, and property division. After agreement is reached on core divorce terms, the couple must file legal forms in family court to actually obtain the divorce. Often, there is a requisite separation or waiting period. The final divorce is subject to the court's approval. The divorce incorporates terms the couple agreed to in their final decree.
Amicable divorces are popular because spouses agree on terms and file papers in court without the cost and time of hiring attorneys. An amicable divorce saves time, money, and heartache. Not surprisingly, every state but New York has passed no contest divorce laws to foster expedited divorces.
Couples considering amicable divorce should give consideration to several approaches:
- Collaborative Divorce - This is handled out of court. Parties retain their own counsel and some measure of control during divorce. Parties come to their own agreements during divorce instead of putting control in the hands of a judge. This approach is appropriate for a couple who does not have difficulty agreeing. It is a big time and money saver. Lawyers facilitate the couple's communication and continue to advise their respective clients.
- Mediation Divorce – With this option, couples resolve issues out of court with the help of a mediator. The mediator helps the couple come to an amicable agreement on issues in divorce. Some jurisdictions require couples to seek mediation on certain issues in divorce.
- Do It Yourself (DIY) Divorce – This works well if parties agree to all property division, custody issues, and support schedules. Couples are not required to have counsel to divorce; they can file papers and seek court approval in most cases without lawyers. Most courts have forms available online or in the clerk's office and there are many commercial templates available online at little to no cost.
- Therapist Counseling – Therapists may be beneficial to a couple even after the decision to divorce, as they may help facilitate an amicable agreement during divorce proceedings. Therapists can assist a couple overcome heated emotions so they can focus on efficient completion of the legal process.
Regardless of the specific approach taken, when divorcing spouses commit to developing compromises and solutions that work for both parties rather than fighting on every issue, the legal process of divorce works more smoothly. In turn, the parties are able to move forward individually and as a family more quickly with less pain, effort, expense, and time expended.