Why Does An Amicable Divorce Matter?

By Linda G. O’Connell, Ph.D.

Divorce is the End of a Chapter: An Amicable Divorce Prepares you for a Successful New Chapter

Divorce is a stressful life crisis. As with all crises, it can result in growth and health, or it can result in stagnation and poor physical & mental health.

If you have children: It matters very much to them and to their long-term happiness.

Without children: Moving on with your life without anger and bitterness or guilt is best for your long term physical and emotional health.

First, If you have children: Conflict between their parents is stressful for children. They need you to restructure their family life in the most constructive way possible. An amicable divorce leading to a more peaceful resolution of differences is essential to shield the children from the conflict and keep them out of the middle. An amicable divorce allows the children to have the best possible relationship with both parents. It also allows you to maintain valued relationships with shared friends and extended family.

If you can achieve an amicable divorce it allows your child to go about the normal business of childhood, of learning, growing and exploring the world. Otherwise, they risk growing up defining themselves as, “Children of Divorce”.

Your children have modeled themselves on both of their parents. They have traits from both of you. If you want them to feel good about themselves, they have to be able to feel good in some way about both their parents, and not see these two parts of themselves as irreconcilable or bad.

When children feel they must take sides or choose between the two most important people in their life, it negatively affects their growth and development.

Children can learn that people can have serious differences, and that life can be disrupted; but also that it is possible to recover and grow from difficult experiences. Children can learn that there can be disagreement, disruption and pain; but that with the right attitude and tools, there can be recovery and growth.

An amicable divorce makes it easier to solve problems and resolve differences relating to the raising of your child(ren). You are going to want an amicable divorce in order to have an good “Business relationship.” An amicable divorce helps the transition for parents from an intimate relationship that didn’t work, to a long term Business relationship in which you together raise happy children.

When you have children together you are going to be in some sort of relationship for the rest of your lives. It is worth taking the time and effort to make this as pleasant as possible. A significant number of parents do succeed at achieving some degree, not only of cooperation, but also of positive sharing of the important milestones in their children’s lives.

Without children: Moving on with your life without anger & bitterness or guilt is best for your long term physical & emotional health, and happiness.

Lack of resolution, unresolved anger or grief takes up a lot of emotional energy, and can keep you stuck in stagnation and unhappiness. A truly amicable divorce promotes moving on and making the most of your life.

How Do You Do This?
You or your partner have concluded that the marriage you believed would last forever is not one you want to continue. Usually one partner has come to this conclusion before the other. Common feelings are grief, fear, anger and guilt. These are not feelings our adversarial legal system is equipped to resolve. Many wise Judges have commented that most divorces are 90% about emotions and 10% about the law.

The best and healthiest long-term solution is an amicable divorce, which can best be achieved through Mediation, or the Collaborative Divorce Process.

This is not easy!!

You may be among the lucky few (20%) who feel equal in negotiating and who easily agree on what is best for the children and how to apportion assets. More likely, you are among the majority (70%) who want to do the right thing but have quite different ideas about what that is.

To achieve an amicable divorce, you are likely to need help.

For those who feel equally matched and strong enough, negotiating using a Mediator, with the advice of two lawyers works well.

For those feeling the need of a little more help and support, or fearing serious disagreement, it is better to have two Collaborative Divorce lawyers both of whom have agreed in writing not to resort to adversarial, Court-involved tactics to resolve impasses.

No aggressive methods are used to achieve goals. Rather, the goal of long term peace and equanimity is achieved through compromise and creativity in finding solutions. This can sometimes be a tall order. For this reason many couples choose Collaborative Divorce. In Collaborative Divorce each party has their own attorney. Both attorneys are committed to helping the couple find solutions and come to agreements that work for everybody. Coaches (who are licensed mental health professionals) help Individuals and the team, work through emotional stumbling blocks. Child specialists and neutral financial experts (where needed) help to clarify and expand options. Coaches support and help their clients understand and work through some of the most difficult emotional aspects of the divorce.

Resolving differences in divorces is often not easy. Collaborative Divorce was started about fifteen years ago by highly skilled litigation lawyers who saw that even when they, “won” for their clients there was not a good outcome. Nobody really felt good about how things turned out. The best known of these attorneys, Stuart Webb in Minneapolis and Pauline Tessler in San Francisco, independently began to look for ways to create better, happier outcomes for parents and children. They crafted Collaborative Divorce to meet this goal of a more amicable divorce.

Today, Collaborative Divorce has spread around the world as a way to get divorced that is more private, more supported, and more healthy than traditional divorce litigation.

To find an Illinois Collaborative Divorce Professional near you, check out the CLII Professional Directory.

Linda O’Connell, Ph.D.

Dr. O’Connell earned her degree at the University of Chicago, and then provided teaching, and clinical services at several major Medical Centers including Michael Reese, Cook County Hospital and the University of Illinois. Since 1991, she has been engaged full-time in providing psychotherapy to individuals and couples, as well as specialized psychological assessment to children, adolescents and their families. In addition, she helps families with conflict resolution through mediation and as a Coach or Child Specialist in Collaborative Law. She will help individuals or families prepare for divorce and choose the modality that best meets their needs. She also specializes in therapy for children and adults adapting to divorce.




Books You May Want to Read:

The Good Divorce: Keeping Your Family Together When Your Marriage Comes Apart, Constance R. Ahrons, Ph.D., 1994

Two Homes One Childhood, Robert E. Emery,Ph.D. 2016

Spiritual Divorce: Divorce as a Catalyst for an Extraordinary Life, Debbie Ford, 2001

Collaborative Divorce: The Revolutionary New Way to Restructure Your Family, Resolve Legal Issues, and Move on with Your Life, Pauline H. Tessler, MA, JD & Peggy Thompson, Ph.D. 2006

The COLLABORATIVE way to DIVORCE: The Revolutionary Method That Results in Less Stress, Lower Costs, and Happier Kids—Without Going to Court, Stuart G. Webb & Ronald D. Ousky, 2006

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