How to have an Amicable Divorce in Ontario
Amicable divorces are possible, not unrealistic. They are within your reach, not pie in the sky.
There are some serious outcomes that could really happen to you if you don’t give an amicable divorce a chance.
As soon as you get lawyers involved in your divorce, you’re risking your separation descending into anger, bitterness and finger-pointing.
Choosing to participate in an amicable divorce will give you a better chance for what is right for you and your children.
Good divorces are arrived at BEFORE trial, WITHOUT divorce lawyers, through a carefully negotiated and amicably arrived at.
Don’t bury your head in the sand and think that everything will be all right.
Its time to focus on an Amicable Divorce. It has been difficult times and you’ve finally made the decision to end your marriage. It’s been a hard conclusion to reach, with so much to consider and so many people likely to be affected by what’s going to happen next. Despite all this, you know it’s the right thing to do. You want an Amicable Divorce.
So how to separate amicably, how does an amicable divorce work when there is so much uncertainty lying ahead, there’s one thing you know for sure – you desperately don’t want your divorce to be a long, drawn-out battle through the courts that tears your family apart and ruins your financial future. You need an good divorce.
You dread ending the divorce process despising your spouse, your bank account drained of funds by expensive legal action, and your children scarred for life from seeing their parents at each other’s throats. You want to avoid this scenario at all costs, but don’t even know if it’s possible. Aren’t all divorces painful, acrimonious and generally awful? Isn’t this the way most marriages end?
The answer is no. There is a more peaceful way in which your marriage can come to a close. A way that more and more couples are choosing to pursue, because it allows you to separate without overwhelming anger, bitterness and heartache, and without the excessive costs associated with hiring family law lawyers to secure a divorce through the courts.
What is the best way to divorce - amicable divorce?
It means a divorce that ends peacefully and in a friendly and respectful way. If that sounds far-fetched given how much anger and bitterness is around in your relationship with your spouse right now, you need to believe that there is still a way to achieve an amicable separation and divorce.
Rather than the adversarial, courtroom based divorces where one partner’s lawyer tries to discredit the other partner, in an amicable divorce, you and your spouse agree to work together to sort out your differences and reach an agreement in a way that involves minimal turmoil, little arguing and maximum co-operation. It’s an approach that’s less stressful for everyone involved, not to mention less costly.
How to end a marriage amicably
Start By Both Deciding To Get A Blame-Free Divorce
No couple wants a disastrous divorce ruining an already fraught situation. So by entering into your separation by both being determined not to blame the other for the failure of your marriage, you’ll increase your chances of achieving an amicable divorce. Remember, there are many reasons why a marriage can fail, some beyond the control of either partner. And if you both accept that it’s over, why waste time, money and emotional energy on the blame game? There’s no point. You need to move onto matters you can affect.
Realise The Size Of The Impact Your Divorce Will Have
Of course, your divorce will impact you and your partner as well as your children and family too.
There will also be financial implications as a result of your separation. Be aware of this from the outset, and aware that you can choose to put others’ needs before your own. Be aware that you can also choose how you get divorced.
Don’t let your separation become bogged down by arguments concerning issues that don’t matter in the big scheme of things. Arguing over small details can drag out divorce proceedings for months if not years. Choose instead an amicable divorce by making sure the issues over which you dig your heels in and search for the best result are the most important ones to you.
While there are never any winners in divorce, choosing to participate in amicable divorce mediation will give you both a better chance of achieving a resolution that’s right for you and your children.
Approach Divorce Negotiations With A Spirit Of Compromise And Good Faith
Hiding assets or not being honest about your income are great ways to fast-track your divorce on the road to disaster. The truth will come out in the end, and hiding facts will only delay things and raise costs.
In an amicable and friendly divorce, you and your partner will agree to be honest and upfront about everything from day one, revealing all relevant financial information in an honest and truthful way. It’s a case of putting all your cards on the table aka net family property, so both parties can see assets, debts, incomes, bank accounts, tax returns and other information.
This is particularly important for the partner who has taken the lead on financial matters during the marriage. They are likely to know more than their spouse, but in an amicable settlement, this knowledge needs to be willingly and fully shared so both partners can make informed decisions.
It’s worth noting that agreement can be achieved in a collaborative joint divorce without you and your partner needing to be best friends. You just need to be able to trust each other.
Put The Needs Of Your Children First
What parent doesn’t feel the heartache of seeing the impact their divorce has on their children? Sharing parental responsibilities in a way that least disrupts your kids’ life has to be the chief aim of your divorce settlement, and that’s where getting an amicable divorce can really make all the difference. By agreeing to divorce mediation you are demonstrating your commitment to resolving issues relating to your children and crafting a great parenting plan, in a peaceful way that’s in their best interests. You’re proving you’re prepared to work together to ensure you’re both involved in your children’s lives, and determined to preserve as much of the family finances so that your children don’t suffer as a result of a costly divorce.
Come To An Amicable Agreement In A Respectful And Dignified Way - Without Lawyers
As soon as you get lawyers involved in your divorce, you’re risking your separation descending into anger, bitterness and finger-pointing. Lawyers can make your divorce divisive, creating confrontation when there could be co-operation. Hostilities can get out of hand and you could find yourself pitted against you partner with your children stuck in the middle and the lawyers draining your finances.
Ask yourselves, is it worth it? Wouldn’t it be better for you and your family to seek an amicable divorce, conducted in a spirit of respect and dignity?
Amicable divorce and divorce mediation can both take the heat out of situations that could otherwise get out of hand. You can choose to work with skilled divorce mediation specialists who will help you find peaceful solutions to the division of property, custody and access of the children, budgeting and more.
It’s all about taking a different, non-confrontational approach to your separation and negotiation process. You work together and communicate with each other in a respectful manner to find a solution through mediation, a solution that will benefit your long-term financial health. A solution that avoids conflict and promotes harmony. That’s the power of an amicable divorce.
Where to find a Separation and Divorce Mediator & other Neutral Professionals
If you feel my Soft Landing Divorce Settlement Method is not a good fit for you or my location is not convenient (and Virtual or Remote Location Mediation is not an option.) It is still vital that you mediate your separation and divorce. You can find a Mediator listed at following organizations:
- Ontario Association for Family Mediation
- Family Mediation Canada
- ADR Institute of Ontario
- Family Dispute Resolution Institute of Ontario (FDRIO)
Other Professionals working as Neutrals
How long can a divorce drag out?
Don’t bury your head in the sand and think that everything will be all right in the end if you choose to settle your divorce through the courts. There are some serious outcomes that could really happen to you if you don’t give an amicable divorce a chance.
How to have a friendly divorce?
To many, the words ‘good’ and ‘divorce’ don’t sit well next to each other. The idea of ripping up a marriage certificate and going back on those marriage vows is, at best, regrettable and to many, socially unacceptable.
Whatever your stance on divorce, chances are you know someone who’s been through a bad divorce. A spiteful and angry split, fuelled by divorce lawyers who leave the former couple virtually unable to communicate pleasantly with each other, and significantly financially less well off for the experience. Divorce has failed these people, because they remain tied to each other, and they cannot get on with their own lives.
But, as with most things in life, there is good and bad, even when we talk about divorce. And good divorces, with amicable separation agreements that leave partners able to live their new lives while looking after their children and finances, are perfectly achievable.
But you may be surprised to learn the size of the role that divorce lawyers play in good divorces, compared with their role in bad divorces.
How to have a good divorce
ALL LOOSE ENDS ARE TIED UP
A good divorce will give each spouse emotional closure in the relationship. Conflicts will have been resolved and both former partners are ready to move on with their lives.
A NEW SOCIAL LIFE IS UNDERWAY
Each spouse has secured their own place in their community, having maintained or developed a network of friends, independent of their spouse. They may even have started dating again.
FINANCIAL MATTERS ARE SETTLED
There are no burning injustices festering inside either partner. Both feel that the financial agreements that have been made are fair. They might not be equal, but both sides can see the reasons behind what’s been agreed, and neither feels aggrieved or excessively out of pocket.
TRUST IN EACH OTHER HAS BEEN MAINTAINED THROUGHOUT
Throughout the separation negotiations, there has been very little, if any, animosity, bitterness or trying ‘to get one over’ on the other spouse. Any disputes have been amicably settled, usually with the help of a mediator.
LINES OF COMMUNICATION HAVE BEEN KEPT OPEN
Both partners have been able to talk and listen to each other during the separation, keeping relations conducive to getting compromises made and decisions reached.
A SPIRIT OF GOODWILL HAS PERVADED
For the sake of the children, or for each other’s well-being, both spouses have kept their relationship civil. Of course, one or other might not like some aspects of any new arrangements, but they have been willing to accept them.
A MEDIATOR HAS PLAYED A KEY ROLE
Even a good divorce will generate areas of conflict, and that’s where the skills and experience of a trained divorce mediator can really make all the difference.
The One Key Factor That Links All Good Divorces
Crucially, the key factor behind the vast majority of good divorces is that they are arrived at BEFORE trial, WITHOUT divorce lawyers getting involved, through a carefully negotiated and amicably arrived at settlement agreement.
The Importance Of Separation Agreements To Good Divorces
The purpose of the separation agreement is to put down in writing the terms in which the spouses agree to separate. In short, it’s an economic blueprint for the family’s future. It lays out each partner’s rights and responsibilities towards any children they might have. It details what is to happen to the property the former couple owned or shared, how the finances will be divided, and it decides which spouse will pay spousal support and/or child support.
This may sound like a completely foreign idea of a divorce to those of you who have experienced a bad divorce. But such amicable divorces are possible, not unrealistic. They are within your reach, not pie in the sky.
Good Divorces And Divorce Lawyers
You will probably have noticed already that not one of the factors common to a good divorce mentioned a divorce lawyer. And there’s good reason for that. Because when divorce lawyers become involved, the process of getting separated becomes adversarial. Like boxers in a ring, couples are set against each other with lawyers egging them on from their corner, never likely to throw in the towel.
Causing damage and hurt to each other, taking cheap shots at each other are all fair game in adversarial divorces. Your lawyer will try to terrorize your partner into conceding this or that, prompting your partner’s lawyer to react in a tit-for-tat that sees the gloves come off and plenty of hits below the belt.
This is the bitter divorce of the movies, with the anger and conflict fuelled by lawyers who will generate animosity between former partners to such an extent that any amicable outcome to the separation becomes virtually impossible.
A good divorce is far more likely when you restrict the role of divorce lawyers and the court process to an absolute minimum. You and your partner need to maintain control of your separation, not hand it over to confrontational lawyers who thrive in the ‘them versus us’ adversarial system.
What You Can Do To Help Ensure A Good Divorce
- Keep your feelings in check, however strong.
- Act rationally, not emotionally
- Maintain a healthy respect for your partner
- Seek compromise ahead of confrontation
- Get the help of a Divorce Mediator before a Divorce Lawyer
How You Start Shapes Your Divorce
In most relationships, it’s one partner who initiates divorce proceedings. They’ve decided the marriage is over and that they don’t want to continue with the way things are. It’s likely they’ve thought about getting divorced for a while and have had time to get used to the idea, even begun planning for a life away from their spouse. They have also had time to weigh up the pros and cons of getting separated.
It follows that the other partner, the one who is about to receive the news that their spouse wants a divorce, has most likely not had time for all these thoughts and preparations. While this spouse may agree the marriage needs to end, the divorce request can still seem like a bolt out of the blue. They are going to need time to adjust and come to terms with the new reality.
How both partners manage this disparity is crucial to a good divorce.
- If you’re the initiator, and you think this gives you the right to control and define the terms of the divorce, you won’t have a good divorce.
- If either spouse tells the other it’s all their fault, you won’t have a good divorce.
- If one spouse puts pressure on the other to make decisions they’re not happy with, you won’t have a good divorce.
- If you use your divorce as a way to get one over on your partner, you won’t have a good divorce.
Instead, you will almost certainly have to each employ the services of a divorce lawyer and enter the adversarial system with all the emotional and financial strains that entails.
How You Can Have A Successful Divorce
- Accept that your divorce is a sad but inevitable result of the breakdown of your marriage
- Realise that both partners have contributed to this situation
- If you are the divorce initiator, give your partner time to get used to the idea
- Negotiate all aspects of the separation in good faith
- Minimize the role divorce lawyers and adversarial courts play in your divorce
- Use the services of a professional divorce mediator
The Problem With Family Law Lawyers
The obvious problem with family law lawyers is their expense, and the fact that you and your partner will have to raid the family’s savings to hire one each.
With divorce lawyers, you risk losing thousands on long and drawn out divorce battles. And taking your divorce to the courts increases the chances of your separation being filled with anger, suffering and emotional stress. Don’t succumb to the clichéd image of a divorce:
YOUR DIVORCE DOESN’T NEED TO BE ALL-OUT WARFARE
The adversarial court room based system of divorce ‘resolution’ as practiced by divorce lawyers is the prime reason why divorces can get bitter, twisted and downright ugly. As Alex Baldwin said in his book: ‘A Promise To Ourselves’, a family court is like a Las Vegas casino. The judges are the casino pit bosses who are there to keep the dealers (divorce lawyers) in line to ensure the suckers stay at the table, losing money. And the suckers? That’s you and your partner.
Divorce lawyers will play to your fears and fire up your rage to keep you coming to their office and paying their fees. They’ll make you believe that a trial judge is the only person who can make everything better. But it’s not true. It’s an expensive fallacy. You and your partner, when assisted by a skilled and considerably less expensive divorce mediator, can resolve your issues and divorce amicably without draining your resources and testing the emotions of yourselves and your children.
YOUR DIVORCE DOESN’T NEED TO BE RESOLVED BY A JUDGE IN COURT
Only about 4% of divorces go to trial. Many cases that look like they’re headed in that direction actually get resolved on the ‘courthouse steps’ with last minute negotiations, avoiding the extra hassle and expense of getting a judge involved. Yet many spouses hope by going to trial, they’re going to get a judge to punish their partner’s bad behaviour. In reality, judges usually just make rulings about who gets custody, or how the finances should be fairly divided.
YOUR DIVORCE DOESN’T HAVE TO TAKE FOREVER
Let a divorce lawyer take control of your divorce, and it really could take a long time. The legal system is notoriously slow with conversations between lawyers and arranging court dates taking weeks to organise, if not months. If you want your divorce to drag on and on, go ahead and hand over control to a divorce lawyer. If you’re looking for a more cost effective and time efficient way to separate, keep divorce lawyers away for as long as you can, and negotiate your own separation agreement with the help of a mediator, and you could be done in 4 to 8 weeks.
YOUR DIVORCE DOESN’T NEED TO PIT YOU AGAINST YOUR PARTNER
Stories of one partner looting the savings or safety deposit box during divorces do the rounds and can be the cause of hostility between spouses. But if you enter mediation in a spirit of good faith, both of you can avoid the nasty, combative side of divorce, and instead resolve your differences quickly and amicably.
YOUR DIVORCE NEEDN’T COST A FORTUNE
When divorce lawyers get involved, the cost of divorce immediately goes up. But by using a good divorce mediator, you can avoid those astronomical legal fees and resolve your divorce issues for a few thousand dollars.
- Getting two lawyers to talk to each other on a phone? That’s $200 of your money gone.
- Getting two lawyers in a court room. That’s another $5000 gone.
- Getting a lawyer to sign a retainer? That could cost you $2,500-$15,000 each.
Alternatively, a divorce mediator can resolve in an hour what could take two lawyers months to sort out.
YOUR DIVORCE DOESN’T NEED TO RELY ON AN AGGRESSIVE LAWYER
Many divorcing couples want to see their lawyer taking their spouse to the cleaners in court, ensuring they get all the money, property and the access they want to their children.
But only 4% of divorces end in a trial, the rest are negotiated, and many decisions aren’t down to lawyers or judges anyway. They have to abide by the Federal Child Support Guidelines which decide the level of child support, or the level of access you get to your children. So paying for that so-called ‘killer’ divorce lawyer is an expensive mistake with no guarantee you’ll get the results you want. It will also almost certainly poison the relationship with your former partner forever, damaging the role you can both play in your children’s future.
If you do need a divorce lawyer, you’re much better off hiring a well-respected lawyer who knows the law and respects the psychological needs of separating families. And such lawyers DO exist.
The Best Divorce Advice
You will have gathered from this that by far the best tip or strategy to follow if you want a good divorce is to secure the services of a good divorce mediator.
You will certainly need to secure the services of a divorce professional, as you’re unlikely to know enough about the technical aspects of getting divorced to get by without expert help.
But a mediator has the following advantages over a divorce lawyer:
You only need to hire one between you, not one each as you would with divorce lawyers
You negotiate your divorce in mediation, you don’t fight over it
You can resolve your differences way more cheaply in mediation than with litigation
Mediation is far quicker than taking your divorce through the cumbersome court system
You’re hiring a lawyer to represent you in court. Yet only 4% of divorces end in court. The vast majority are settled by negotiation. So get a good negotiator. Get a mediator.
The average divorce mediation is resolved in under 8 hours. And with mediators typically charging around the $200 per hour mark, you can get your divorce issues resolved for under $2000.
As a Divorce Mediator myself, I can give you an example of how much my clients typically pay.
For mediation sessions, independent legal advice and the preparation of your final separation agreement, you can expect to pay $4000 to $8000 less than you would just for your lawyers’ initial retainer fees.
So a divorce conducted through mediation rather than litigation saves most couples between $20,000 and $32,000.
Need a divorce lawyer to end a marriage peacefully?
Here’s a startling fact: about 50% of all lawyer-negotiated divorce settlements break down within 2 years. That means you’ll be back in court, starting a new fight over custody and access to the children and/or finances, pouring more money down the drain and opening up old wounds that have barely had time to heal.
And why do divorce lawyer created settlements crack under pressure? Because they aren’t real agreements that both partners have had a role in forming. They’ve been created by lawyers to paper over the cracks. Neither partner is really committed to them, increasing the likelihood of a breach of contract.
Amicable Dicorce Mediation, on the other hand, requires both spouses’ full involvement, and direct negotiation with each other until amicable agreement is reached. This usually means both spouses are more committed to honoring the terms of the settlement. It’s why a mere 5% of couples who use mediation to come to a separation agreement end up in court within 2 years.
If that’s not a clear and unequivocal reason for you to enter mediation rather than hire divorce lawyers, I don’t know what is. Thanks for reading.
Are you having trouble reaching an agreement on your finances? Do you want to avoid going before the judge and asking for help? Consider working with a family mediator who can help you end your marriage in a way that is peaceful, cost-effective, and child-focused.
Would you like to learn more? Get in touch for a Get Acquainted Call to learn more about finding a separation agreement with a soft landing.
Articles that may interest You!
since you’re here…
Do you value fair costs, compressed timelines, your well-being and a favourable outcome?
If you have children, are approaching retirement, or simply in the primary pursuits of life, no matter what your station in life, separation and divorce often presents some unique challenges. That said reaching a settlement should not break you financially or break your family. Like life, Separation and divorce also have their stages. The early decisions you make and the path you take are directly connected to the quality of your outcome.
The path you take
Let’s hear from Divorce Industry insiders about lawyers and litigation.
“Entering the litigation process forces people to take an adversarial stance because that’s the way the system is designed.”
“Because a court can only do so many things, the answers are impeaching us already. Has to be custody, has to be access, has to be amount of support, has to be division of assets, in a way that the law stipulates. So they’re very bounded by the results because a court can only order so many things.”
“Lawyers unfortunately because that’s their job, tend to reinforce that [adversarial stance]. When you have people who are hurt, who are in crises, who are afraid, who are worried, and they see it as a war. And that’s really dreadful for kids”
June Maresca – Family Court Judge
“The process requires people to bring out the worst in each other. My ex-husband is like this and like that, all the most horrible things. My ex-wife is like this and like that, it brings out the worst in people. So the other party reading that gets their back up and retaliates.”
“She said I knew that our marriage was broken, but after the litigation our family was broken. And it just, it broke my heart.”
Toni Pietrantoni – Family Law Lawyer
“Once you thrown mud at somebody and they throw mud back at you, it typically gets to the point where the hate level does not decrease, the hate level increases.”
“When I see litigation, it’s based on a binary system. You either win or you lose, or on an issue, you’re right or you’re wrong.”
Richard Bennett – Family Law Lawyer
“And at one point my mom said well you have to choose who you’re going to live with, me or your dad. And I couldn’t study for about a good two months and we had finals coming up, so it was difficult.”
Child of Divorce
“The time has come for a fresh conceptual approach to resolution of family disputes in Ontario”
Warren Winkler – Ontario Chief Justice 2007 – 2013
“The empirical evidence shows that it isn’t necessarily the separation and the divorcing of parents that creates the psychological and emotional damage in children, it is the conflict that happens afterwards.”
Julia Haasz – Family Law Lawyer
“The litigation process is expensive, time-consuming, and it’s not going to have the effect people think it’s going to have.”
Francine E. Van Melle – Family Court Judge
What about Self-Representation?
The family court system has seen a terrific increase in the number of self-represented litigants (self-reps, or SRLs) over the past few years. But what does it mean to be a self-rep? Judges and lawyers, as well as the system itself, are all struggling to understand who how to better accommodate self-reps in a system built upon the expectation of both parties having lawyers to act for them.
The National Self-represented Litigants Project revealed some disturbing figures. Over a period of 4 years and 3 months ending April 6, 2016, in Ontario Superior Court cases where there was one self-rep and one represented client, the self-rep won only 14% of the time and lost 73% of the time. (The remainder resulted in no orders or split orders.) While there are many explanations for this, it’s clear that a person without any legal help or assistance is facing an uneven playing field.
The resolution value ladder
The further down the resolution value ladder you start, the higher cost go, and the longer timelines extend. Bypass low-value processes and start with the high-value mediation process. Whether you have a settlement in mind and just need a separation agreement prepared or need assistance reaching a settlement, contain costs and conflict by working with a neutral third-party – mediator.
Learn more about Soft Landing Divorce Settlement Method
“Research tells us the greater the degree to which the parents own the outcome, the greater the likelihood they will actually follow through, and that reduces the conflict.”
“People are like snowflakes, families are like snowflakes. No two are the same. And so the benefit of a collaborative process, there is no rubber stamp, there is no template that anyone has to fit in to”
Gary Direnfeld Social Worker MSW, RSW
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