Here are some things you should consider doing if you want to split amicably from your spouse:
- Don’t rush your spouse
- Ensure that the split is in your child’s best interests
- Plan for the long term
- Assemble documents and facts to minimize disagreements
- Don’t say hurtful things to your spouse, however angry you may be
- Be polite and kind
- Establish a timeline
Separation is tough, but a whole lot of emotional distress and tension can be reduced if it is done amicably. In an amicable split, both spouses cooperate, compromise, commit, and work towards a peaceful separation that works best for them as well as the children. Though an amicable split sounds tough to execute, it is possible so long both spouses keep their calm, act maturely and philosophically, and of course, follow this guide:
1. Don’t Rush Your Spouse
Well, it is possible that your decision to split is taken in a hurry and it may not be the right solution to your marital problems. So, by rushing your spouse you may be chipping away at a long-standing relationship and perhaps compromising your children’s future. So, think hard and decide if the separation is the right thing to do.
If you are convinced that you need to separate, we suggest that you should not rush it. That is because things may have reached their peak by then and both spouses may be in a state of mental turmoil. If you rush the process, your spouse may get angered and he/she may not agree to your alimony, child support, custody, and other demands, thereby delaying the separation.
So, be patient, communicate calmly, and allow your spouse to digest the news. If he/she cannot, both of you should consider consulting a therapist and pave the way for a smooth separation.
2. Ensure That The Split Is In Your Child’s Best Interests
The courts always decide on child custody and child support matters based on the best interests of the child. So, if your separation goes against the child’s best interests, the courts may get the perception that you are not an ideal parent. Ask yourself:
- Are you and your spouse mentally and physically fit enough to care for the child after the separation?
- Which of you two has been the child’s primary caretaker and will the separation result in a change?
- Is the custody of the child passing in full or part to the parent with a criminal record or who has engaged in substance abuse or domestic violence in the past?
- How will your child’s relationship with you and the other parent get impacted after the separation?
- Is the child mature enough to understand the circumstances that are leading to the separation? Or, will he/she be shocked?
- Will the child’s life get destabilized after the separation?
- Will the child’s physical or mental health get impacted by the separation?
Typically, you need to ensure that the separation does not impact the child negatively – and this need should motivate you to engineer an amicable split.
3. Plan For The Long term
Don’t think short term. Separation, which may be followed by divorce, is a life-changing decision and therefore your post-separation goals must be logical and robust. Remember that after any separation/divorce, there are fewer dollars to go around and you must plan for the long term, addressing your financial as well as emotional needs. Ask yourself:
- How much will I earn every month (alimony + salary + child support (or) salary – alimony – child support) after the separation?
- Will my monthly earnings be sufficient to run my home and look after my child?
- Will I get a fair share in the marital property?
- What should I do with the marital property that I get – retain or sell?
- Am I physically and mentally fit to look after my home and the child single-handedly after the separation?
And other such questions that depend on the circumstances of your case. You need to play the long game and plan accordingly. If you plan for the short term, you will end up fighting small battles instead of winning the war.
4. Assemble Documents And Facts To Minimize Disagreements
In most separations, there are some to and fro spats related to money and children. To minimize acrimony, assemble documents and other statements that will support your claim if the separation converts to a divorce. Here is a list of documents you should collect and keep copies of:
- Individual or business tax returns (federal, state, and local) of the last 3 years (These will help your family attorney understand how much the family made every month and what could have been your standard of living.)
- Individual and joint bank account statements
- Documents related to stock options or other intangible assets such as art
- Employment contracts (of both the spouses)
- Statements, appraisals, or documents related to other investments (brokerage, mutual funds, cryptocurrency and other online wallets, bank deposits, art, stock options, etc.)
- 401(k) and other retirement account statements (of both spouses)
- Documents related to marital property and separate property
- Insurance policies (health, life, and others)
- Property deeds (home, farmhouse, investment properties, etc.)
- Mortgage statements
- Property tax receipts
- Credit cards owned by both spouses, loans owed, loan applications, and other debt documents.
- Car registrations and insurance policies
- Utility bills
- List of separate properties owned by each spouse.
- Medical bills
- Fees paid for regular schooling and extracurricular activities
- The family’s monthly budget
5. Don’t Say Hurtful Things
When emotions are running high, it is best to be in control of what you say, especially when there are children around. As a wise man once said, “don’t say anything that permanently hurts because you are temporarily offended.”
In a fit of rage, spouses can hurl insults, threats, barbs, and expletives that are meant to hurt the other spouse. The damage that hurtful words cause can last a lifetime, and when the spouse at the receiving end feels insulted or hurt, he/she may turn uncooperative. Also, you should not badmouth the other parent to your child because, aside from jeopardizing your separation, your badmouthing can hurt your child custody case.
6. Be Polite And Kind
- Don’t assume that your spouse has taken the news of the separation so badly that he/she is out to extract revenge. Assume that he/she has taken the news in his/her stride and will cooperate. Of course, if your spouse doesn’t play ball, you will know soon enough – but until then hope for the best and prepare for the worst. If you assume the worst and react, you may end up complicating the case.
- Communicate clearly and truthfully with your spouse and be gracious and gentle in a straightforward manner. Don’t engage in one-upmanship or a battle of egos.
- Have empathy for your spouse, he/she may be as upset as you are. Who knows, your empathy may rub off on your spouse and he/she may agree with your point of view.
- Whenever your spouse cooperates with you, be thankful. Expressing appreciation and being gracious creates a nice vibe even during a difficult period.
7. Establish A Timeline
A trial or a legal separation is a major decision in the life of a spouse. Many spouses separate so that they can ponder over the past and come up with a marriage-saving solution – or, they may decide to divorce after thinking things through. Therefore, a separation must be treated with a lot of seriousness and spouses should set an optimum separation period that they feel is sufficient enough to make up their minds.
If they don’t stick to the timeline, the whole process is likely to become casual and it may end up causing dissatisfaction or acrimony. So, spouses should stick to the separation timeline and communicate their decision as agreed earlier.