Is it possible to have a “friendly” divorce in Michigan? Many couples who decide to file for divorce may know that there are two types of divorce under Michigan law – contested and uncontested. An uncontested divorce refers to a proceeding in which a couple agrees to all terms of the divorce, from property division to spousal support to parenting time. A contested divorce is one in which the parties cannot reach an agreement about terms of the divorce, and the court must make the final decision.
Even when a divorce is uncontested, it does not mean that the spouses are necessarily on good terms with one another or that the uncontested divorce is happening because of any kind of “friendliness” between the parties. Uncontested divorces simply may occur because a couple wants to get the divorce over as quickly as possible. What does it take, then, to have a “friendly” divorce? That question was posed in an article in Psychology Today, and we want to explore what it means to have a “friendly” divorce.
Friendly Divorce can be Psychologically Beneficial for All Parties
When it comes to the emotional and psychological impact of a divorce, a “friendly” divorce typically is best for all parties involved-from the spouses who are dissolving their marriage, to kids from the marriage, to friends and family members of both. Generally speaking, family psychologists use the term “friendly” divorce to refer to a situation in which spouses are on speaking terms with one another, are collaborating with one another, and are working to maintain friendly relations despite the stressors that accompany any divorce.
By taking steps to work collaboratively with a spouse during a divorce, the article suggests that the parties engage in a “process [that] speeds up the inevitable grief at a loss of what was and sets the stage for a better future.” In other words, not only does a “friendly” divorce help all parties to move through the stages of grief more quickly, but it also allows them to move on with their lives in a meaningful way. How do you have a “friendly” divorce?
Guidelines for a “Friendly” Divorce
Psychologists suggests that there are a number of guidelines that couples can consider in order to work collaborative through a divorce, which include the following:
- Finding a way to understand why the relationship did not work without placing blame on either of the parties. The spouses may identify stress that developed outside the relationship (from, for example, a job, or from mental health issues, or from taking care of another family member) but impacted the relationship, or differences in life stages;
- Each spouse should consider mistakes that she or he made and think carefully about ways to remedy them. In some situations, this kind of self-reflection may prevent divorce, but it can also help couples to stay on friendly terms after a marriage is dissolved;
- Work with an expert to learn about collaborative dialogue skills and tips for engaging in shared decision-making. If you and your spouse have not talked with a psychologist, it is important to consider the ways in which a neutral third party may be able to provide help;
- Be fair but generous when negotiating a property settlement;
- Talk about your feelings of sadness, loss, betrayal, guilty, and any other emotions with someone who is a good listener; and
- Work with an experienced and compassionate divorce lawyer on your case.
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