How to have a good divorce

For many people, the word divorce is synonymous with conflict, anger, hurt and resentment. While these types of negative feelings and emotions may have contributed to an individual making the decision to divorce, they don’t' need to dominate the divorce process.

When parents have made the decision to divorce, it's normal and healthy to have residual feelings of anger, guilt, regret and resentment. It's also, however, important for the sake of shared children to move beyond these negative feelings and towards a more peaceable and happy future.

Having a good divorce may seem like an oxymoron, but it is possible and many divorcing couples are finding ways to do just that through the collaborative divorce process. No one benefits from a high-conflict divorce. Both spouses are left emotionally and financially drained and children are left wounded and often forced to bear the emotional and mental battle scars for years. What's more, divorcing parents who engage in contentious divorces will likely have a much more difficult time effectively co-parenting with an ex in the future.

Even very young children are highly perceptive and can suffer as a result of witnessing conflict or living in an unhappy home. Therefore, in many cases divorce is the best and healthiest option for all family members. That's not to say, however, that the process is easy. When it comes to divorce and attempting to come to an agreement about the division of property and child custody matters, emotions often run high.

To help keep emotions in check, individuals going through a divorce are advised to discuss issues in advance of a collaborative session with their attorney and write down key points and concerns they want to discuss and address with an ex-spouse. This approach can be especially beneficial when sorting out matters related to child custody. Additionally, taking steps to develop open and effective communication while going through the divorce process will also benefit divorcing parents in developing a good co-parenting relationship in the future.

Source: American Psychological Association, "Healthy divorce: how to make your split as smooth as possible," 2014