Although sometimes a divorce can devolve into a bitter battle, that does not mean yours has to end up that way. Walking into a divorce braced for a fight practically guarantees one, and highly charged emotions cause people to not think clearly and make good decisions. Doing so could cost you thousands of dollars and potentially harm your children in the process.
Like it or not, divorce is a team effort, just as marrying and starting a family was. If you and your spouse approach the divorce accepting your own responsibility, willing to compromise, putting your children first, and preparing a fair division of custody and assets, the process will be much less emotionally stressful for the entire family.
What Is an Amicable Divorce?
The term amicable refers to friendliness and without disagreement. In the context of divorce, amicable also means there will be no litigation, that all parties agree to all terms, and there will be no lengthy and heated fights in court. Litigation is necessary when you and your spouse cannot reach an agreement and are unable to compromise.
A divorce is considered amicable when both parties reach a mutual separation agreement out of court. This type of divorce is much less emotional and stressful for both spouses and tends to result in a happier post-divorce life for your whole family as well.
What Is a Mutual Separation Agreement?
The mutual separation agreement is a contract between both spouses laying out the dissolution of marriage, allocation of assets and debts, child custody, and other specifics. You and your spouse will create a fair and equitable separation agreement together; agree to the terms; and avoid lengthy, contentious, and expensive court proceedings. In most states, legal separation forms can be found online and downloaded if you choose to start the process on your own. However, it is highly recommended that you hire lawyers to prevent future problems that could hold up the divorce when you have your court hearing. The following is a framework on what should be included in a mutual separation agreement:
Separation: Amicable divorces start with an amicable separation. If you have reached a point at which separation and divorce are inevitable, you will first need to make some decisions related to a legal separation. You will need to determine whether one of you will move out of the home and how parenting will be handled, including child support in relation to time, income, and other factors. You will also want to determine who will pay the mortgage and other household expenses or how you will divide them, and possible temporary spousal support. This is not a complete list of what decisions are necessary, and everyone’s situation is different.
Child custody: All decisions related to the children must be in their best interest, and it is important to keep that in focus. Fighting over the children to get back at one another only hurts the children. There is no such thing as a perfect parenting plan; things change, schedules change, the children’s needs change, and it is important to be sensitive to their needs during these situations. Be flexible and understanding in making your child custody decisions and be willing to compromise when changes need to be made. For your children and yourselves, quality of time is more important than quantity.
Assets and debt: Create a list of assets, such as real estate, vehicles, bank accounts, stocks, life insurance and the like; and a list of debts, such as the mortgage, credit card bills, household expenses, tuition, taxes, and other costs. Determine whether these items are one spouse’s property, community property, or a combination of both and the value of each item. Develop a plan as to who receives what property and which debts each of you will pay. For all items, provide the appropriate documentation to support your claims and decisions.
Child and spousal support: Although this section is included in the agreement, understand that the decision and dollar amount for child support and spousal support will be decided by the court, using a specific calculating system to determine what amounts will be awarded. In making that determination, items such as number of children, income levels, day care costs, existing child support for other children or alimony for a former spouse, health insurance costs, and the number of overnight stays with the non-custodial parent will be considered, among others.
What Happens if We Do Not Agree on Everything?
It is likely that no matter how agreeable you and your spouse are, there will be choices to make on which you may not ultimately agree. There may be emotional situations that necessitate divorce. That does not mean, however, that you cannot still have an amicable divorce. Some typical situations that cause disagreements between spouses include the following:
- Child and/or spousal support
- Infidelity and adultery
- Child custody
- One spouse wants divorce, the other does not
- Financial debt and other money problems
- Division of property and assets
- Medical coverage
Even in the most amicable of divorces, agreeing on everything while developing your mutual separation agreement together can be a daunting task, especially when it comes to finances or children. Therefore, it is highly recommended that you both hire lawyers to help you develop a sound, legal plan that works for everyone. Reinforce your desire to have an amicable separation with your lawyers and let them communicate with one another and negotiate on your behalf. This will be less costly and also alleviate some of the emotional stress that typically arises during any divorce, amicable or otherwise.
Towson Divorce Lawyers at Huesman, Jones and Miles, LLC, Help Couples Divorce Amicably
Amicable divorces are possible if everyone is willing to work together and compromise for the best outcome for the entire family. The Towson divorce lawyers at Huesman, Jones and Miles, LLC, will always have your best interests in mind. They are an experienced team in helping clients reach a mutual agreement and settlement that benefit your whole family. For more information and a free consultation, complete our online form or call us at 443-589-0150. Located in Hunt Valley and Towson, Maryland, we serve clients throughout Baltimore, Baltimore County, Bel Air, Bentley Springs, Columbia, Freeland, Hereford, Hampton, Westminster, Essex, Monkton, Sparks Glencoe, Parkton, Phoenix, Pikesville, White Hall, Carroll County, Harford County, and Howard County.