The stats on the state of marital bliss in Australia are grim. According to the latest figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics the number of people getting divorced is up and most couples are lucky to last beyond 12 years.
Think about it … a union between two people that started out as love, affection and respect slides into hateful words, nasty battles over property and children and broken hearts. Deciding to divorce is a big decision, with many implications but it can be done amicably, with respect and without involving the courts.
Divorce does not have to be a costly train wreck.
When Karen and Bruce’s five-year marriage ended, they hated the sight of each other. Days ended with angry slinging matches about who was to blame. Karen recalls thinking at the time ‘how did it comes to this?’
“Here was the man I had loved with all my heart and I just wanted to be away from him. We had just drifted apart. With two small children, full-time jobs and all the things that go along with being busy people, we stopped taking time for each other,” she said.
“Standing there yelling at him, knowing in the back of my mind, the kids could hear every single word coming out of our mouths, I couldn’t stop myself even though I knew it was having an impact on the girls.”
Karen and Bruce wanted to do divorce with as much love and compassion as they did their wedding … but there was now more at stake. It is hard to put aside all those feelings when a relationship ends. When we put as much time into planning a wedding, it makes sense to put in the time and energy to plan a peaceful divorce. This doesn’t mean you’ll become besties at the end of the process, but it will mean the financial and emotional consequences will be diminished.
- The first step to an amicable divorce is Connect – with professionals who can help you navigate your relationship with your ex, the family law system, property, business, taxes and with yourself. This is the time for constructive conversations to plan the path ahead, to work out the best way forward is and to be sure your relationship is not salvageable.
- This next step may get you thinking … Coach. While you may not be training for a sporting event or taking your business to the next level, you are planning the next phase of your life. This step is worthy of time and energy. No one really knows how to manage relationships; many of us cross our fingers and do our best, guided by those who have gone before us. With divorce rates so high, we are not doing the best job. Coaching can help you heal, learn to communicate better, manage the conflict and develop goal-oriented outcomes. Think of your divorce coach as your voice of reason. When relationships break, it’s a highly emotional time and we often respond in anger and grief. A coach can help you navigate the cycle of emotions, provide bespoke personal and practical assistance and help you prepare and get organised. A coach will work with you and your wider team to create a comprehensive road map.
- Then Consult – with a mediator. This doesn’t mean you are handing over your power; you must be the driver’s seat when it comes to navigating the many decisions you must make. A mediator can help you negotiate a parenting and financial plan with your spouse so you both know where you stand and will facilitate the conversation between the two of you. If there are areas that are proving to be sticking points, this is where a mediator can help you reach a respectful agreement. Divorce litigation is costly. A mediator can assist you to reach an agreement so you can stay out of court.
- Complete is the final step. Breath. You have made it. The children are as settled as they can be. Property is divided, and you can look at your ex without wanting to throw something at them. Your lawyer can now finalise the paperwork and legalise the agreements you and your partner have reached at Mediation. This is where the work and effort you have put into your amicable divorce pays off.
What happened to Karen and Bruce? Their marriage ended and while they are not best friends, by working through this process, they parted with dignity.
Bruce said he had heard horror stories from friends who had divorced. “I was terrified of this happening to us, especially when we have the two girls to think about. I could see it happening. When we followed the four steps, we gained clarity about what we wanted and didn’t want,” he said.
“I am sad my marriage is over, but by choosing to be an adult and mature about the next phase of our relationship, because we still have to co-parent our children, we have achieved a level of peace.
“I didn’t think divorce could be amicable, but it is amazing what you can do with guidance.”