The Love, Happiness & Success Podcast with Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby
Music Credits: “Degrees of Separation,” Mr. and Mrs. Smith
How To Have An Amicable Divorce
As a marriage and divorce counselor, I know that sometimes the path of growth carries couples apart. If divorce is on the table, learning how to create an amicable divorce will lead to the best outcomes for everyone, and help you heal a broken heart that is often inevitable.
This commitment to a collaborative divorce process will allow you to separate in the healthiest way possible. It’s especially important to go about a divorce process thoughtfully if you will be co-parenting after divorce, or continuing to run a business as a divorced couple.
Today’s podcast will help you get clarity about how to achieve an amicable divorce that prioritizes the health of your continued relationship, even though you will no longer be married to each other.
Amicable Divorce: Setting The Foundation For a Positive Relationship With Your Ex
Divorce is never anyone’s first choice. Couples get married with the best of intentions, and premarital couples never anticipate getting a divorce when they tie the knot. While it’s every couple’s hope that they can productively work through their issues and go on to become stronger and happier than ever before, it’s not always possible to repair a relationship — even with the very best evidence-based marriage counseling.
Nevertheless, if both individuals are willing, it is possible to go through a divorce in a healthy way and retain a positive relationship with each other on the other side. In this situation, you can amicably separate. Amicably, meaning, that there is no bad blood between you and your ex.
In this episode of the Love, Happiness and Success Podcast, I am speaking with Denver family law attorney Stephanie Randall to get the inside scoop on how to have an amicable divorce.
Stephanie is a family law attorney, managing partner of Burnham Law, and has been guiding couples through the process of amicable divorce for years.
Stephanie shared so much invaluable information for anyone thinking of a divorce, and preemptively addressed the “divorce questions” that you might have. She shed light on some of the most common misconceptions about divorce. Most importantly she shared useful strategies for what types of things to do (and what to avoid) if you want to have an amicable divorce or collaborative divorce with your soon-to-be-ex.
If you’ve been considering getting divorced or are in the midst of the divorce process, this interview with Stephanie is a must-listen.
In This Episode: Amicable Divorce with Divorce Attorney Stephanie Randall
We’re discussing how to:
- Arm yourself with a full understanding of all the pros and cons of divorce
- Learn the most important questions to ask a divorce lawyer
- Educate yourself about your options for divorce
- Know for sure whether it’s possible to stop a divorce and save your marriage (and why you should always consider that, when possible)
- Intentionally use your divorce to create a growth-promoting experience for both partners
- Recognize the importance of transparency in divorce
- Learn about the types of divorce and stages of divorce
- Find out the difference between co-parenting and legal custody
- Learn what characteristics to look for in a mediator
- Discover the things people do that unintentionally create a highly conflictual divorce
- Realize how therapy in Denver (or high-quality online therapy) can make the divorce process easier for you
- Understand the role of attorneys in having a collaborative divorce
- Learn about the divorce recovery process, and the path of healing after divorce
Stephanie shared her honest perspective so generously. As I was recording this episode with her I thought, “This is probably the same thing she’d tell her best friend who was thinking about divorce.” While this podcast is in no way a substitute for getting legal advice around your specific situation, I have no doubt that Stephanie’s authentic and heartfelt recommendations will be just as helpful for you as it is for her Denver divorce clients.
To access this episode and all of Stephanie’s wonderful divorce-advice, you can listen here on Growingself.com or listen to “How to Have An Amicable Divorce” on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, or wherever you enjoy listening.
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How to Have An Amicable Divorce: Episode Highlights
How To Get Through A Divorce Amicably
No couple gets married, anticipating they will go through a divorce. As much as we can, we want to create and nurture long-lasting relationships. Great premarital counseling and couples therapy can help to set your marriage up for success, and support your journey of growth together. However, some relationships cannot work, and there is no other choice but to get a divorce. [Check out, “When to Call It Quits in a Relationship” for more on this topic.]
However, if you’re getting divorced, it’s important to make this as positive of an experience as possible for both of you, and to use this life experience as a launchpad for your growth. One of the most important aspects of the breakup recovery process is working through the hard feelings about divorce, including anger, grief, resentment, guilt, and regret. Good therapy or coaching can help you move through this process of healing after divorce.
On the other side of this important personal growth work (or perhaps before, depending on your perspective about the divorce itself), you can connect with a positive and affirming perspective about your divorce that can be very helpful for your mental and emotional wellbeing.
“New ideas” about your marriage and divorce may include reminding yourself that:
- Individuals in a relationship realize they are better friends than as spouses. They appreciate their relationship more as they keep the good and release the parts that were not working.
- They can collaborate to be good co-parents for a long time. The children will also appreciate this healthier set-up between their parents.
Working through difficult emotions can be a very important part of the amicable divorce process. Amicable, collaborative divorce requires you to have positive intentions for the divorce process. If you’re feeling very angry, hurt, or anguished about your divorce it can be difficult for you to make the types of decisions that will increase the likelihood of an amicable resolution.
The Importance of Transparency in a Divorce
Divorcing couples have often bruised each other emotionally in the months (or years!) leading up to a divorce. Trust may already be damaged. However, it’s important to have as much integrity and goodwill during a divorce as you are able to muster. If you’re not careful and deliberate, the adversarial nature of the divorce process can easily violate the remaining trust you have for each other. And the best way to avoid this violation is for partners to be transparent.
Here are some things that can help you maintain as much trust and integrity as possible as the divorce process unfolds:
- You have already met with an attorney and are ready to file for divorce, consider telling your partner ahead of time. No one wants to be surprised by a process server with divorce documents from their spouse.
- If possible, talk openly and honestly with your spouse to help them understand why you want a divorce.
- Provide as much information as you can about what the divorce process is going to look like, for both of you.
In our conversation, Stephanie added that, “those couples, [who can be transparent], are the most successful in co-parenting and in departing their marriage well.” She shares a number of strategies for how to have these kinds of “courageous conversations” with your spouse.
Co-Parenting Versus Legal Custody
In addition to sharing some great “big picture” strategies for how to use the emotional intelligence skills that will facilitate an amicable divorce, Stephanie also shared some tips for divorcing couples around “divorce do’s and don’ts” that will help you stay in a positive place together.
Among them: “if you litigate custody, if you get into a battle, it’s going to be three to five years before your co-parenting relationship recovers, ” Stephanie says. Divorce is a difficult decision because it affects you and your spouse and your children.
Here are some questions to help you reflect on a decision:
- Can you make compromises for co-parenting instead of fighting in court?
- Is the outcome of fighting for legal custody worth your children’s peace?
- Should both of you be present in your children’s important life events?
Stephanie shared other questions and tips to help you create a functional agreement around parenting with your partner that will (hopefully) keep you out of court.
The Difference Between Mediation and Litigation
Stephanie talked about the difference between mediation and litigation, and why they’re so important for divorcing couples to consider. A judge usually orders anyone filing for a divorce to see a mediator. And in some jurisdictions, you are required to get a mediator. Stephanie talked about how mediation is the best way to achieve an amicable divorce, if it’s possible to do so.
Mediation is necessary to help both individuals see the bigger picture and arrive at a fair compromise. Below are some characteristics to look for in a mediator:
- Has a background in law or therapy.
- Knows the history of law in your state.
- Has experience and a good track record in settling cases.
- Does not only relay what you say but challenges your position.
Stephanie adds, “they say that a successful mediation is when everybody leaves unhappy. And that’s because nobody got exactly what you wanted.“ Painful, but true!
Things People Have Trouble Compromising On Divorces
Stephanie talked about how the quickest way to a hostile, conflictual divorce is through rigidity. Awareness about the most difficult compromises can help you avoid getting into power struggles, and keep you from turning an amicable divorce into world war three.
First, people have trouble compromising their children’s significant days, such as their birthdays or Christmas holidays. Stephanie shares some pointers on how to handle this situation better:
- It is okay to spend these significant days separately. Children do not mind spending them twice, and would even enjoy it.
- It is not as important to children as they are to parents. Parents should get past their emotional barriers and be prepared to take turns.
- Children want peaceful celebrations, where their parents treat each other with respect and not as enemies. Otherwise, children end up hating celebrating these days.
Next, people also get hung up on money. Stephanie advises people to connect with professionals, a CPA, or a financial planner, to avoid making fear-based decisions.
She also adds, “we want to be able to be empowered with the knowledge of, ‘this is how much money I need to take care of my family and to take care of myself.’”
On Recovering Through the Stages of Divorce
Stephanie had much to share on the topic of divorce recovery. She said, “it’s worse than death. It’s the grieving of a thing that you thought was going to be forever. ” Anyone who chooses to go through a divorce must be ready for its adverse effects on their emotional well-being. However, divorce can also lead to enormous personal growth and positive change (with the right support).
Stephanie frequently advises her clients to get a good Denver therapist. (Or to pursue high quality online therapy, or divorce / breakup recovery coaching. Here are other reasons why she feels getting a therapist is helpful after a divorce:
- The court system is not made up to deal with feelings. The divorce process often feels unfair, which can also make you feel stressed or distrustful. It’s vital you have a safe place to process all of these feelings, and develop coping strategies to deal with them.
- A therapist can help you work through feelings and develop healthy skills for addressing them productively. You do not want to end up lashing out at your co-parent! Being in a good place emotionally, and having an actionable plan to manage the big feelings that will arise is essential to having a positive relationship with your Ex, going forward.
- You will need a support system. Especially if you’re a parent. One of the hardest realities of divorcing parents is that it’s not just you that’s going to be having a hard time. Your kiddos are going to need your emotional support, and you’ll have to be mentally and emotionally well (enough) in order to support them. Friends, family, and acquaintances on social media are no substitute for professional, personalized support for your unique divorce situation.
On Dealing with Couple Reconciliations
Can you stop a divorce and save your marriage? Stephanie says yes. Some couples reach the beginning of the divorce process, which becomes their wake-up call. The types of authentic, courageous conversations that couples facing divorce have with each other can be long overdue. Sometimes, airing out all the issues can be a moment of clarity recognition that leads to reconciliation, and an on-ramp to marriage counseling.
On Distrusting Your Spouse’s Parenting Style
Stephanie brings up an extremely important “selling point” for the importance of an amicable divorce for couples who share children: having a positive relationship with your Ex allows you to have a more collaborative co-parenting situation. Many couples struggle with having big feelings about their partner’s parenting, and divorce often makes those worse.
In addition to her work as a family law attorney, Stephanie is a child and family investigator who specializes in children and family dynamics and reports to the courts about the best interests of children. In her experience, she shares how common it is for divorced couples to doubt each other’s parenting styles. However, the court only deals with and restricts severe cases where there is evidence of children being endangered or neglected.
In these cases, she advises her clients to let go and accept the situation. If you have an excellent co-parenting set-up, you can gently bring up your doubts. But if you are on bad terms, consider working with a therapist to facilitate a healthy conversation. Otherwise, your only hope is that they end up in a relationship with someone who parents in the same way you do.
On Avoiding a Conflictual Divorce Process
Aside from the earlier mentioned importance of transparency, Stephanie lists other advice on how to have a collaborative divorce:
- Choose an attorney who can advocate for you. If your attorney is unprofessional or making the issues personal, it is time to get a different attorney.
- Do not give full control to your attorney. You should be the one who signs off on things filed in court. In the process, avoid personal attacks because presenting facts alone is enough for the court.
- Have a reasonable attorney who presents the whole picture to you. As an example, Attorney Stephanie shares a conversation with her client, “You want to fight about $50 a month in child support. it’s gonna cost you $5,000 for me to litigate it. You tell me from now to the time that your child turns 19? Is that worth it? If it is, I’ll file the motion.”
These episode highlights are only a tiny fraction of all the ideas, tips and strategies that Stephanie shared over the course of our conversation. I sincerely hope you listen to the full episode to get all of your amicable divorce questions answered.
Additionally, here are some other resources for you:
- Exaholics: Breaking Your Addiction to An Ex Love — For advice on handling breakups, and the breakup recovery process.
- Burnham Law — Check out Attorney Stephanie Randall’s Denver family law website to learn about her and her practice.
- Deep Bench Podcast — If you’re interested in lawyerly things, check out Burnham Law’s podcast for more information on the life and times of attorneys.
- Growing Self Counseling and Coaching: Divorce Recover and Breakup Recovery Services — We have so many resources here for you. Access divorce recovery and breakup recovery podcasts and articles, or find an online divorce recovery therapist in Denver, Colorado if you’d like personalized support on this difficult journey.
- How to Stop a Divorce — Tune in to this episode for tips on how to turn things around (fast) if divorce is on the table.
- Discernment Counseling — this is a special type of couples counseling that can help you decide if relationship repair is possible or not.
Attorney Stephanie Randall has generously shared with us her expertise on how to have an amicable divorce. How did your perspective on divorce change after this episode? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below this post.
Also, if you have a friend or family member considering divorce, I hope you share this episode with them so that they can make an informed decision about the best course of action. I hope that this information will help them, too.
Wishing you all the very best,
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The Love, Happiness & Success Podcast with Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby
Music Credits: “Degrees of Separation,” Mr. and Mrs. Smith
Free, Expert Advice — For You.
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- The Best Way to Deal with Divorce
- When you decide to divorce, there’s a violation of that trust in the relationship.
- Couples that are the most successful in co-parenting and in departing their marriage well are the ones that are transparent with each other.
- If you have a dispute in the divorce, it’s going to be three to five years before your co-parenting relationship recovers from it, on average.
- If you need to go through mediation, have it with a professional with experience and a good track record.
- What Causes the Most Friction in Divorces
- Disputes regarding children and money are what cause the most angst.
- Children can adjust. Fighting over minute details isn’t worth it.
- You have to get past looking at your co-parent as the enemy.
- It is best to meet with a financial planner and accountant to know exactly how much money you need to care for yourself and your children.
- Get a therapist to help you deal with the trauma of the divorce process.
- Deciding to Go Through Divorce
- Only the person themselves knows when it’s time to get a divorce.
- There are situations where safety and sanctity demand that the relationship be severed, and there are other times when two people can decide to figure it out.
- Sometimes, couples file a divorce, engage in the process, and find out they want to stay together.
- Problematic Parenting From the Co-Parent
- It can be frustrating to effectuate some rules for your kids and not have your co-parent follow them.
- So, worry regarding a co-parent’s parenting is common. However, the court does not see nuance and grey areas.
- You have to recognize that you no longer have control over the other household.
- Work with a therapist who can help you word your messages well so you can get your co-parent to cooperate.
- Decreasing the Likelihood of Conflict During a Divorce
- Be careful about who your attorney is. They are your advocate, so they should represent you well.
- Remember that you should be steering the wheel, not your attorney.
- Stick to the facts and be cautious about filing anything. Make sure to do a cost-benefit analysis to see if what you’re fighting for is worth it in the long run.
Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby is the founder and clinical director of Growing Self. She is a licensed psychologist, a licensed marriage and family therapist, and a board-certified coach, as well as the author of “Exaholics: Breaking Your Addiction to Your Ex Love,” and the host of The Love, Happiness & Success Podcast.
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