When both spouses agree to the terms and conditions surrounding child custody (now referred to as the allocation of parental responsibilities in Illinois), parenting time, the division of property, child support and spousal maintenance in the dissolution of a marriage it is referred to as an amicable divorce. An amicable divorce is almost always uncontested, and since the individuals who are involved in this type of divorce are able to negotiate the terms of their divorce settlement peacefully, a long, drawn out court experience is avoided. While the final terms of the divorce are still subject to the approval of the court, the final decree typically incorporates most, if not all, of the couple’s wishes.
(Article continues below Infographic)
Reap the Benefits of an Amicable Divorce
Many individuals claim that an amicable divorce is often more confusing or traumatic for any children involved because they may not understand why their parents are unable to make their marriage work when they can make major decisions and settle something as serious as divorce without much friction. Most people would agree, however, that litigation is an extremely difficult experience for the entire family to endure, and avoiding the warfare that can develop during a more complicated divorce is typically better for all parties involved. In addition to being able to avoid a lengthy courtroom battle, benefits of an amicable divorce include:
- Less conflict in the future. When spouses complete the divorce process without the ruthlessness that frequently occurs during a difficult dissolution of marriage, hard feelings and resentment can be reduced or eliminated. This makes future communications more civil.
- Less expense. Most of the time, when an individual hires a divorce attorney, he or she is quoted an hourly rate. In some instances, attorneys also charge flat fees for certain actions pertaining to the case at hand. The average contested divorce can drag on for 18 to 30 months in Cook County, and 12 to 18 months in DuPage, Kane and Will counties. These cases often include complicated court appearances, multiple motions, and a number of other twists and turns that can turn into tens of thousands of dollars in fees during the course of the divorce. Since the average amicable divorce in these same counties takes less than a month from beginning to end, the financial savings are often significant.
- Less trauma for children. In amicable divorces, children are typically insulated from much of the trauma that would be experienced during a more drawn out, contested divorce. With the entire process being handled reasonably and without animosity, children and parents alike are able to move on with their lives in a more positive manner.
Making Your Divorce Amicable
Since more than 90 percent of divorces eventually settle out of court, with some doing so at the very last minute, many couples feel that pursuing an amicable divorce from the beginning makes more sense. When both spouses agree that the marriage is over, and they wish to peacefully negotiate the terms of their divorce without litigation, there are a number of things they can do to improve their chances of experiencing a successful outcome.
- Choose the right divorce attorney for the job: Some divorce lawyers are more interested in creating an environment that encourages hostility and aggression and leads to a lengthy battle in court, resulting in extensive attorney’s fees, than they are in the best interests of their clients. Choosing an attorney with the right attitude and experience, therefore, is essential. When an amicable divorce is the goal, selecting a divorce attorney who is focused on more practical solutions, and supportive of dispute resolution options like mediation and collaborative law can be extremely beneficial.
- Separate emotions: Divorce is often an extremely emotional experience that can easily turn into a traumatic event filled with anger, bitterness, and the desire for revenge. When individuals are in this frame of mind, poor decisions can be made that make achieving a fair and reasonable settlement difficult.
- Be willing to negotiate: Even when both spouses have the intention of creating an acceptable settlement, factors can be brought to light that were not previously thought of or agreed upon. When this happens, it is important for both parties to realize that everything may not go as planned, and they may not get everything they want in the divorce. Reasonable negotiation that takes into consideration the best interests of everyone involved is necessary to reap the benefits of an amicable divorce.
- Be realistic. Amicable divorce is not possible for every divorcing couple. It is vital that both spouses be realistic about their ability to negotiate the terms of their divorce reasonably, fairly, and in a civil manner. When the marriage was filled with abuse, intimidation or extreme hostility, for example, reaching a fair and reasonable settlement without litigation may not be easy.