The divorce process can be ugly or remarkably civil. If you’re hoping to split up amicably, it’s important to first do your homework, advised Morghan Richardson, a divorce attorney based in Astoria, New York.
“Just a little information about the start of the process can go a long way in establishing that you are using the divorce process as a tool, not a weapon,” she told HuffPost.
Below, Richardson and other divorce and co-parenting experts share their best advice for divorcing and co-parenting like grown-ups.
1. Tell your spouse that you’re considering divorce.
You can’t “ghost” your way out of a marriage. At some point — hopefully sooner than later — you need to reveal to your spouse the internal debate you’ve been having about your relationship, Richardson said.
“Most people are uncomfortable with conflict but you cannot afford to be that way when you have kids and property to divide,” she said. “If you haven’t told your spouse you are unhappy, the news of a divorce will be even more devastating to them.”
To take some of the sting out of that difficult conversation, talk about it gradually, Richardson recommended. “Set aside several times to talk about your unhappiness and thoughts before you hand out the divorce papers,” she said.
2. If your spouse wants to go to therapy, go.
You owe it to your spouse, your marriage and your kids to pursue every last option — including couples therapy — before filing for divorce, said Lori S. Rubenstein, a divorce recovery coach and mediator based in Arizona.
“Assuming you’re not in an abusive situation, if your spouse wants to go to counseling, go and give it your all,” she said. “Give your spouse time to come to the same conclusion, that it’s time for a divorce. Often a coach or counselor can help you break up in a loving way and figure out what is best for your children in the long run.”
A therapist can also help you hash out and rehearse how the two of you will tell the children, Rubenstein added.
3. Quit arguing about the past.
If you do choose to move forward with the divorce, keep overblown arguments about the past to a minimum, said Richardson. At this stage, what’s the point?
“These past problems may be the reasons you are getting divorced and if you couldn’t solve them during the marriage, you won’t solve them at the end of it,” she said.
4. Assure the kids that it’s not their fault.
Divorce in and of itself doesn’t harm kids, but how adults choose to break the news and handle the process definitely does, Rubenstein said.
“Assure the kids that you are not divorcing them and that it is not their fault,” she said. “Then follow through and never put the children in the middle of adult matters or use them as leverage.”
Read more about it on the Huffington Post here: http://huff.to/2mLdGPa