scroll top

12 tips on how to have a happy, friendly divorce

We get commissions for purchases made through links in this post. Here's more on how we make money.
The information contained on this page does not constitute an attorney-client relationship and is not intended to be a substitute for legal advice.

Is your marriage at its end? Want to keep things civil?

Top things to keep in mind when divorcing:

1. Aim for is a quick divorce.

2. Go for 50/50 parenting schedules. Get examples of 50/50 schedules here.

3. Make sure you have the most overlooked item in a divorce settlement agreement: insurance. Here's everything you need to know about insurance divorce.

4. Take your jewelry and consider selling online for cash.

Why an amicable divorce is best for your children

You can convince yourself that your children are not affected by the conflict of your divorce, but that is a lie. Your children pick up on all the tension between you and their other parent.

Also, it is very hard to move from a high-conflict divorce into an amicable, healthy co-parenting relationship. By committing to a low-conflict, amicable breakup now, you start your new life as peacefully for the whole family. Studies show that an equally shared parenting schedule is what is best for children.

Amicable, friendly divorce paves the way for equal, happy co-parenting, which has been proven by 60 peer-reviewed studies to be the best arrangement for children in separated families.

In other words: Do not create any more bad memories or things to fight over during the divorce. You did that already when you were married.

Yes, you can have a happy, friendly divorce without a lawyer.

There are many options for divorcing without an attorney:

You can sit down at the kitchen table and work it out between the two of you in an amicable divorce agreement. You can work with a mediator — either a certified divorce mediator, or a therapist, attorney, financial planner or even a trusted friend who can help sort out difficult points of negotiation. These two options fall under uncontested divorce.

You can also take the matter to court and duke it out before a judge — and pay in terms of money, time, stress and agony.

Together, you will create a divorce settlement agreement outlining everything your state requires you to agree on, as well as any other items that are important to you, regarding sharing custody and expenses of the kids, and splitting any assets you have and how each of you will behave moving forward (for example, that neither of you will speak ill of the other one to family or friends). Learn more about you should include in your settlement agreement: How to file for divorce 101 — the basics

Using online divorce paper services can be helpful in collecting all the necessary divorce papers for your state, and getting instructions for how to file them. Here are our reviews of the best online divorce services.

If you and your spouse are amicable, you can collect all the divorce papers from the local courthouse, sit down with a divorce settlement worksheet and agree to terms of the split yourselves. Then, you can file with the local courts. Depending on where you live, you may need to make an appearance in court to finalize the breakup. Get a divorce worksheet now from >>

Then, you file all the divorce papers in your local courthouse, pay the related fees, and then wait for them to be processed. Some states require that you appear in court for the finalization, but others will simply mail you your final divorce papers.

Many divorcing couples use a hybrid approach: working out most of the details between the two of you, but having a family attorney review your final settlement to make sure that there are no technical errors, and that both parties' interests are represented in a fair way.

Even if the divorce is friendly, before you officially file for a divorce, it helps to talk to an attorney or mediator to make sure that you are protecting your children, yourself and your financial interests.

If you are not working amicably with your spouse on the divorce, you may need to hire an attorney who will manage this process for you. Your ex then will also likely hire an attorney. Then, both camps can hash out a divorce agreement, which will then be filed in the courts. Or, you may have to go to trial if you can not come to a divorce agreement outside of court.

If you think that you and your spouse can work out the terms of divorce yourselves, without expensive lawyers and threats of going to court, then here's what you should know about amicable friendly divorces:

What is an amicable divorce?

An amicable divorce means that both spouses agree to the terms and conditions without a court trial, and without lengthy attorney negotiations. Couples divorcing amicably typically either agree to terms of the split by themselves, with the help of a mediator, a therapist, or through the collaborative process.

Online counseling for couples or individuals can be an affordable, convenient choice. Learn more …

5 tips for a quick divorce

How to have a happy and amicable divorce: 12 tips

These agreements include property division, spousal and child support, visitation and custody. Amicable or friendly divorce does not mean that the spouses are friends, or even friendly — but they are not at war, either.

  1. Focus on being fair and honest, and aim for compromise.
  2. Be kind — to our ex (this is hard for him, too), yourself, and those around you. This is a loss and change for everyone.
  3. Expect it to be hard. “Amicable” is nice word, and sometimes this process is referred to as a “friendly” divorce — or you may seek mediation or a collaborative process. A positive vernacular, but all very hard and painful.
  4. Commit to full financial disclosure, and no sneaky business to keep your income low.
  5. Do not threaten or aim for majority time with the kids. Studies show equally shared parenting is best for children — and moms' income
  6. Set up a co-parenting plan, and consider parenting classes for divorced families.
  7. Aim for no child support or alimony — women and men can now support themselves financially, and should. Best work-careers for moms
  8. Commit to self-care. Divorce will go down as one of your most difficult and painful experiences.
  9. Find a positive tribe. One study found that when divorcing couples receive negative feedback from their friends and family (“Take him for all he’s worth!” “I always hated that bitch! Make her pay!”) the divorce conflict was higher than in separating couples who had kinder support networks.
  10. Open yourself up to rewriting your ideas about who you are — and who you will be going forward. Let go of your old identity as a married person.
  11. Work through any guilt you may have about leaving him/her.
  12. Recognize that this process establishes the tone of your new relationship going forward. If you share children, your husband or wife will be in your life for a long time.

Depending on whether you are using a single mediator, representing yourself or each of you have your own attorney, the spirit of an amicable divorce hearing is the same: Each of you wants to get out of the marriage in a way that is fair, quick and low-drama. In some states you must appear before a judge to finalize your divorce, but often your attorney or you can file settlement papers with the courts directly and do not have to appear.

How much does an amicable, friendly divorce cost?

While an average divorce costs each spouse $15,000 each in attorney fees — or $30,000 total — a DIY divorce can cost as little as $100 or less, depending on the filing fees in your state.

Legal separation vs divorce — which is right for you?

What is part of an amicable divorce checklist?

Whether you are working with a mediator, or directly with your soon-to-be-ex-spouse, it is helpful to have a divorce settlement checklist to make sure you have all the paperwork and agreement items covered.


  • Marriage certificate
  • Prenup
  • Wills, trusts and other docs that may need to be amended after the divorce
  • Login information for all your shared financial and legal accounts
  • Documentation of any outstanding debt, and a plan to share that debt, including student loans, credit card, personal, medical, home and auto notes. Sell your house for cash in 24 hours? What you need to know about Offerpad
  • All bank account statements, and an agreed-upon plan for how any funds will be shared
  • Retirement and investment account statements, and a plan for sharing these funds
  • Documents about any real estate that is part of the marriage, and how related assets, debt or rental income will be divided. How property is divided in divorce
  • Documents about any business that is part of the marriage, and how related assets, debt or rental income will be divided
  • Agreement for who is responsible and who gets any automobiles owned
  • 2 years of tax statements, and plans for tax filing in the divorce year
  • Custody, time-sharing plan for children
  • Plan for expense sharing for children
  • Any child support or alimony to be paid

What to know about dating while going through a divorce

What to expect at an amicable divorce hearing

Today, you can expect that hearing to be via Zoom or another online meeting platform, though as courts open up that is changing. Attorneys and judges are backlogged thanks to Coronavirus shutdowns, and it will likely take longer than usual to finalize your divorce. Here is what happens in a divorce hearing when you file an uncontested, or amicable divorce settlement:

  • You or your attorney will file your signed and notarized divorce papers at your local court house.
  • You and your husband or wife will appear in front of the judge, who will ask you a few questions to make sure that all of the forms have been completed thoroughly, and willfully.
  • The hearing typically takes less than 30 minutes.
  • The papers will be signed. In some states, a formal record will be mailed to you in some weeks or months later.

Complete guide to the divorce filing process

What is the best amicable online divorce company?

The best way to file an amicable divorce is by yourself — with no company at all! That said, even the friendliest of divorcing companies choose to have an attorney look over their paperwork to make sure it is all filed correctly, and many rely on online divorce services.

Bottom line: You need to commit to having a happy divorce.

Our Happy Divorce: How Ending Our Marriage Brought Us Closer Together authors Nikki DeBartolo and Benjamin Heldfond work and play well together—and it only took a divorce to get them there. Though their marriage has been over for nearly a decade, they still share a happy life with each other and their son Asher, along with their new spouses and children, all documented on their popular Instagram and Facebook fees.

Here is a TEDx talk about successful co-parenting after divorce:

Susan Guthrie, Esq., is a long-time divorce attorney, mediation advocate and host of a popular podcast on healthy breakups Divorce & Beyond. Follow her on Instagram, including this episode with Dr. Elizabeth Cohen, who wrote 5 Tips for Self-Care Sunday:

Signs your husband or wife is ready for divorce

5 signs of a toxic marriage

What you need to know about insurance in divorce

What is an amicable divorce?

An amicable divorce means that both spouses agree to the terms and conditions without a court trial, and without lengthy attorney negotiations.

How much does an amicable divorce cost?

A DIY divorce can cost as little as $100 or less, depending on the filing fees in your state. founder Emma Johnson is an award-winning business journalist, activist, author and expert. A former Associated Press reporter and MSN Money columnist, Emma has appeared on CNBC, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, NPR, TIME, The Doctors, Elle, O, The Oprah Magazine. Winner of Parents magazine’s “Best of the Web” and a New York Observer “Most Eligible New Yorker," her #1 bestseller, The Kickass Single Mom (Penguin), was a New York Post Must Read. As an expert on divorce and gender, Emma presented at the United Nations Summit for Gender Equality and multiple state legislature hearings. More about Emma's credentials.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *