Amicable Divorce Facts and Tips
Amicable Means Civil
An amicable divorce means a civil divorce, where both spouses agree to the terms and conditions of property division, spousal and child support, visitation and custody. It does not mean that the former spouses are friends when it's over. It does mean the spouses don't fight over anything and enter an agreed judgment peacefully.
An amicable divorce almost always means an uncontested divorce. Negotiations go more smoothly when both spouses agree the marriage is over.
The Divorce Treaty
Negotiating an amicable divorce requires the skills of a diplomat negotiating a treaty. Just as punitive treaties pave the way for the next war, punitive divorces make for anger and bitterness that makes divorced parenting impossible. The desire for revenge invites bad decisions that lead to a long, expensive, and drawn out divorce. In an amicable divorce, the spouses separate their emotions from the diplomacy involved in a fair and reasonable settlement.
Choose a Lawyer with Care
One way to turn a divorce into trench warfare is to hire a go-for-the-throat attack dog lawyer whose scorched earth strategy makes a wasteland of negotiations. The attack dog one spouse hires only invites an equally aggressive response from the other spouse. The shooting starts; the lawyers become rich; the spouses go bankrupt emotionally, financially and emotionally. The lawyer who wants to go to court (as opposed to negotiate) may be engineering the divorce to maximize his or her fee.
An amicable divorce happens when both spouses collaborate; that is, they both work to a settlement without going to court. Each spouse cooperates with the other, and each communicates with the other. Both exchange necessary documents without costly discovery. Each spouse strives for the common ground to build upon. When differences arise, all efforts focus on negotiation; when consensus happens, both work to fill out the plan in greater detail.
There Are No Winners in Divorce
One veteran Pennsylvania family law practitioner says that a fair settlement is one where neither spouse is happy but both can live with the outcome. Spouses who can accept this can negotiate an amicable divorce.
Divorce is Not Painless
An amicable divorce is not a painless divorce; all divorces entail pain and suffering. Nor is it a breakup where one spouse plays dead just to keep things "friendly." In fact, an amicable divorce is not necessary friendly, but it is civil. An amicable divorce means negotiating rather than litigating. The rewards of this include fewer court visits, less pain and trauma on children, reduced costs and a quicker divorce. The purpose of a divorce is to end a marriage so that the past conflicts end and the former spouses get on with life.
Pro Se Divorce
When both spouses agree on the terms and conditions of the divorce the division of the marital estate, spousal support, child support, custody and visitation they are well placed to file pro se. Pro se filing often means that one spouse files and the other accepts, but the result is an amicable end of the marriage. Pro se divorce cuts the cost of a divorce dramatically and the necessary agreement means a clear and neater end.
Many jurisdictions now require divorcing couples to avail themselves of a mediator, a neutral third party, who helps the spouses find their way to agreement on one or more issues. Mediation can be enormously helpful when couples want to resolve issues amicably and thus avoid a court battle. This requirement can be waived if both parties agree.
In collaborative divorce, both spouses retain lawyers, but the lawyers for both work as negotiators, and negotiation is handled outside of court. When a divorce goes to court, the judge makes the decisions. When spouses collaborate, the couple comes to agreements without a judge. The lawyers assist by facilitating good communication and advising their clients of the law. A measure of collaboration is required in any amicable divorce, and makes amicable divorces easier. Collaborative divorce helps couples save time and money, and the divorcing couple retains control during the divorce.
Useful Online Tools
Resources & Tools
INNOCENT SPOUSE RULE -- Section 434(c)(1) of the Internal Revenue Code protects an innocent spouse from tax fraud prosecution under certain conditions. This rule mainly protects women who innocently sign returns while married to men who controlled the finances. An innocent spouse can be protected from liability if 1) a joint return was filed, 2) the return contains a "grossly erroneous" error, 3) he or she establishes "lack of knowledge," and 4) it is "inequitable" to impose the tax on him or her.
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