If you are going through a separation or divorce, you might be in the midst of some pretty ugly battles with your ex. Divorce can be contentious, litigious and downright dirty.

So how do you ensure that you and you ex separate amicably?

As a family mediator in Perth, I know a few things about working to achieve amicable separations through family mediation. That’s not bias or a sales pitch – it’s a fact. Divorces that are settled through mediation are almost always quicker, cheaper and more amicable for everyone involved – for the parties themselves, for their children, for their families and for their friends.

Here are some tips on how to achieve an amicable separation.

Work With Your Ex, Not Against Them

The first thing parties need to get their heads around is that the family law is not interested in whose fault it was for the breakdown of their relationship. Once parties have agreed to separate they both need to work with each other to achieve a quick settlement agreement that they can live with and enable them to move on with their lives.

Holding grudges and working against each other will only stall the process, making it more costly and far more stressful than is really necessary. There is no need to fight anymore. Think of it as negotiating a peace treaty after a war – the hostilities are over, so now let’s work out how we are going to manage the future.

Stay Practical, Not Emotional

The next important and, perhaps, the hardest thing to do is to remain practical throughout the negotiations and put your emotions aside – completely. The relationship is in the past and now it’s time to plan for your future – blaming, “he said, she said” and retribution are simply reflections on your perception of the past and play no useful role in working out the future.

Make your decisions based on practicality, not on emotion. Don’t argue to hang on to an asset just to get at your ex (an aside, I once mediated a matter where the husband would not drop his claim for Seekers’ CD, just because he knew his wife particularly liked the group. It did not settle!).

Where the parties focus on their children’s needs and are prepared to compromise the financial issues the decisions become much easier to make.

Review Your Assets & Liabilities Together

Australian family law requires that the division of assets and liabilities is fair and equitable. There’s no getting away from that. Many people believe “fair” mean a 50-50 split but not everything needs to, or indeed should be, split straight down the middle.

Achieving an amicable separation requires both parties to openly disclose their assets and liabilities to each other and negotiate how best to split them equally and fairly, inflicting as little inconvenience on each other as possible. The more you can agree on, the quicker and least costly your separation will be.

Be honest and fair – resentment simply fuels more resentment.

Focus On Long Term Goals

Your marriage or relationship was in the past and your separation now is the starting point of your future. If you share children, your ex will now become your fellow co-parent and having a workable relationship with them should be among your top priorities.

When discussing the splitting of your assets try not to argue and be petty about who gets what, but share your assets in a fair way with which you and your children will be happy – or at least satisfied.

Focus on the long term goal of achieving an amicable relationship with your ex which will set the tone for a more cordial future co-parenting relationship . Arguing over a coffee table (or a Seekers CD) at the expense of a stress-free relationship with your ex is never a good idea.

Be Willing To Listen & Compromise

Just as much as you want to be listened to, so will your ex when it comes to negotiating your separation settlement. Nobody can expect to get their way all of the time. 

Be willing to listen to other’s points of view and compromise wherever you can. That may encourage your ex to reciprocate, making the separation process less stressful and quicker to achieve. Acknowledging any sign of empathy from your ex will also encourage them to be empathetic towards you.

Bear in mind that the longer the process takes, the harder it becomes to achieve an amicable settlement. Prolonging the process also raises the costs for both parties unnecessarily.

Stick To The Written Word

If you find it difficult to hold a conversation with your ex without it ending in an argument, try a different approach and stick to the written word.

Agree with your ex to communicate by email rather than in person, thus reducing the impact of emotion.

That will also afford you more time to choose your words carefully and not risk a hostile reaction, paving the way to an amicable separation and post-divorce relationship.

Set Healthy Boundaries

Even though you may have an amicable relationship with your ex, the game has changed and you are no longer partners, but co-parents. It’s time for different rules and boundaries to be set for your new relationship.

New rules could include anything from agreeing to remain civil at all times, not discussing financial matters with the children, or anything to ensure a cordial relationship.

Achieving an amicable separation does not mean that you must be “besties” but it will certainly make life so much easier for everybody.

To get started on your separation, speak to our accredited family mediator in Perth today about using family mediation to achieve an amicable separation agreement with your ex.