What Is an Amicable Divorce

  •   |   Meghan Freed

In black text the words "amicable divorce" on a white background with a blue border.Many people wonder how to have an amicable divorce.

Please read on to learn more about how to set yourself up to divorce amicably.

What Does Amicable Mean?

When you seek an amicable divorce, it’s important to start with the basics — what does the word amicable mean?  Then, how does that work in the divorce context?

If you boil it down, the definition of an amicable divorce is rooted in goodwill and an intent to avoid resentment.  In almost all divorces, there is some level of disagreement.  There can be significant areas of dispute.  It’s important to emphasize that this doesn’t mean a peaceful divorce is impossible.  The key to an amicable divorce is not having no differences to resolve in the first place.  It’s how the spouses decide to resolve those differences that matter.

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Define Amicable

The root of amicable, “amicus,” means friend.  However, that definition can be slightly misleading in the divorce context.  You do not need to be best friends to avoid a bitter divorce.

Wiktionary has a helpful definition of amicable, which refers to divorce.  “Amicable is particularly used of relationships or agreements (especially legal proceedings, such as divorce), with meaning ranging from simply “not quarrelsome, mutually consenting” to “quite friendly.”

Define Amicably

The key to understanding how to “amicably” centers on showing the goodwill you need to avoid a hostile divorce.  Focus on your goal of resolving your issues amicably, and act accordingly.

What Is an Amicable Divorce?

There are a couple of common characteristics of all amicable divorces.  The first involves where the spouses place their focus.  In an amicable divorce, spouses focus on resolving their issues rather than accusing and finger-pointing.  Second, they resolve problems outside of court.

It’s important to note that a wide range of divorces meets the definition of amicable.  However, it takes great effort for some spouses to remain civil to each other and not turn to the court to resolve their differences.  Knowing that resources are available to help spouses reach amicable solutions is important.  It doesn’t need to be just the two of you, one on one.  Lawyers and mediators have many tools to help you reach agreements and stay cordial.

Spouses at the other end of the amicable spectrum remain close friends throughout their divorce and after.

Read: How to Have a Good Divorce

Read: Using EAR Statements to Solve Problems With Your Ex During Divorce

Amicable Divorce Process

There’s no one process for an amicable divorce.   You can have a mediated, collaborative, or even litigated divorce and still be cordial.  Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) approaches like mediation and collaborative divorce are designed to provide a process that supports spouses as they resolve their disputes with mutual respect.  The court process inherent in litigation is not created with the same goals.  However, there are certainly litigated divorces that meet the definition of “amicable divorces.”

Whether a divorce is cooperative ultimately boils down to the two spouses involved.  So keep focused on the goals you have for your divorce itself and your future.  Don’t focus on bitterness about past events or “right vs. wrong” and “good vs. bad.”

Read: ADR & Divorce

Read: What is a Cooperative Divorce?

Amicable Divorce in Connecticut

The Connecticut courts have baked-in methods to try to keep or get things amicable in the divorce court process.  For example, Family Relations staff helps parents reach agreements.  At pretrials, volunteer attorneys and judges assist spouses in reaching settlement agreements and avoiding trial.

Read: What Is Family Relations?

Read: What Is a Pretrial?

What’s Uncontested Divorce?

“Uncontested divorce” is generally used to refer to any divorce the couple resolves with a full settlement agreement instead of a trial.  As we discussed above, your divorce can be civil regardless of your divorce method.  The critical difference is that mediation and collaborative divorce are specifically designed to support the spouses’ efforts to be cooperative.

We mentioned above that all amicable divorces share two characteristics: (1) the spouses focus on resolving issues, not rehashing the past or right and wrong, and (2) they successfully reach out-of-court agreements.  However, an uncontested divorce really only speaks to (2).  Therefore, it’s possible to have an uncontested divorce that is not civil.  For example, spouses could have high hostility throughout the divorce and ultimately still reach a settlement agreement.

Read: What Is an Uncontested Divorce in Connecticut?

What’s the Lawyer’s Role in an Amicable Divorce?

Most lawyers support their clients’ commitment to being amicable, though some don’t.  In our experience, sometimes this is because of a particular lawyer’s philosophy that the court is the place to resolve certain divorces.  More often, though, it’s because a lawyer organizes their schedule around the court calendar.  This reactive approach to practicing means the lawyer focuses on the case with an imminent court date, not on reaching proactive out-of-court resolutions.

Suppose you or your spouse selects an attorney not committed to helping clients reach out-of-court solutions.  In that case, it may impact the amount of time your divorce takes and the difficulty of resolving issues without turning to a judge.  That said, there are tools we’ve developed that can help encourage settlement negotiations with even the most reactive or litigious lawyers.

Read: Don’t Add Fuel to the Fire: Five Tips for Smoother Communication During Divorce

Read: Don’t Mistake Truth for Weakness: It’s Strength

Amicable Divorce Cost

We often say that the thing that’s most likely to increase legal fees in a divorce is the level of antagonism between the two spouses.  (By the way, it’s also the thing that’s most likely to increase the time your divorce takes.) On the other hand, if you keep things cooperative, your divorce will generally proceed more efficiently in terms of time and money.

Read: How to Help Keep Your Legal Fees Down

Read: BATNA in Divorce

Next Steps

Please check out our Divorce Information and Facts for more information about Connecticut divorce and family law.  If you have questions or want to learn more about how our team of divorce attorneys can help you, please get in touch with us here.

Freed Marcroft LLC

Freed Marcroft LLC