Do you want an amicable separation or divorce?

Almost everyone who is considering separating wants an amicable divorce.

Who wouldn’t?

A High-Conflict Divorce will take years to resolve (if it every does fully resolve) and all the money you can lay your hands on (and probably then some).

Amicable shouldn’t mean stupid!

Making decisions about your parenting and financial settlement is going to be one of the biggest decisions you ever make in your life.

For most people by far the biggest financial decision you ever make.

I’d like to sugar coat this for you but making those decisions without getting any legal advice is just plain dumb.

Amicable means friendly

The definition of Amicable is: characterised by friendly goodwill and showing a polite and friendly desire to avoid disagreement and argument.

When you are seeking to have an amicable divorce you need to take into account the other persons feelings, needs and interests as well as your own. When you find differences in your attitudes or opinions you work together on finding a resolution to the problem rather than blaming or attacking each other.

People who are separating amicably don’t have to agree with each other on everything but they do work to quickly resolve any disagreements.

Conflict Volcano

Going it alone or using professionals?

The decision to sort everything out yourselves or whether to engage with professionals isn’t really a very hard one.

Everyone should get legal advice before agreeing to a financial settlement and probably before beginning  serious negotiations. Find out about getting a Legal advice and strategy session 

Agreeing to a property settlement without an understanding of what the likely range that your settlement would be in if you went to court is foolish and something you may regret later.

Client Story – Name changed for confidentiality

My husband offered me 50/50 on our property settlement. He said we shouldn’t waste money on paying solicitors and should do everything ourselves. It seemed fair and so I agreed.
We used the DIY process that the court has for Consent Orders, sold up our investment property and I paid him out the money and kept the house and a bit of cash.

He then moved overseas, never paid a cent in child support for our three children and left me with everything including a huge capital gains tax debt. 

If I had gotten legal advice I would have understood that if I was going to have the kids full time I should have gotten a bigger percentage of the assets and also would have been warned about the capital gains tax which was never allowed for. 

Regretful Rose, NSW.

When should you use a professional mediator to help you negotiate?

Most people should consider Family Dispute Resolution mediation when they are considering separating or any time making decisions about the children becomes difficult.

Most specifically if you:

  • can’t speak openly about what you need and what is important to you,
  • when you can’t work well together to solve problems (and lets face it if you are separating that probably means you)
  • when there is an imbalance of power in the relationship due to one having a greater financial literacy, understanding of the children’s needs, if there has been family violence or threats, if one has access to enough money and the other is dependent or any other reason that your ability to bargain and negotiate is weak,
  • when one or both are feeling very emotional when they meet up, if tempers flair or you shut down and are unable to speak openly
  • when one of you isn’t ready to separate but the other is absolutely unwilling to reconsider ending the relationship

Find out more about participating in Family Dispute Resolution with Interact Support

How high are you on the stress scale?

Divorce and marital separation are two of the top three stressors on the Holmes-Rahe Life Stress Inventory.

This list was created by two psychologists examining the link between stress and illness. They found in their study of 5,000 people who were experiencing illness the relative illness risk of various life events. Further studies have supported the evidence that the stress associated with these kinds of events increases your likelihood of becoming ill. Holmes-Rahe Life Stress Inventory

The link is between the stress associated with the events and your health, so anything that you do to make separation and divorce less stressful and to increase your resilience, the better.

Stress and Children

The effects of your divorce and separation are not just going to be felt by you. They will be felt by your children as well. The modified scale below is for young people and identifies how your separation can affect them. The good news is that there is a lot you can do to cushion then and also to build their resilience so that they are better at coping with upsetting life events in the future.

One way you can help is by completing the New Ways for Families – Parenting without Conflict Course. This 12 module course gives you some great information and tools to help make your divorce more amicable and on how to help protect your child from the damaging effects of parental conflict.


There is no question that an amicable separation and divorce is best.

To achieve that you have to learn how to collaborate to work out the best way forward for your family.

You have to engage with the right professionals to help you sort things out. That doesn’t mean turning things over to an adversarial lawyer. It means getting good quality legal advice and then working with a mediator who can help you overcome the problems in communicating with and working with someone you may not actually like much right at the moment.

It also means educating yourself about negotiation, the family law system and how to protect your children from the negative effects of bad decisions and parental conflict.

You can and should remain in control of the decision making during your separation and divorce if at all possible but that doesn’t mean going it alone and it definitely doesn’t mean making uninformed decissions.


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by Joanne Law time to read: 4 min
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