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Tips for easing an acrimonious divorce

Often, people assume that a divorce is always doomed to devolve into a shouting match. Those who have never been through the process tend to believe that the legal actions are always taken in an open court, where skeletons are dragged out of the closet and dire accusations are leveled.

The truth is quite different. Many divorces are done out-of-court, using a settlement that is privately determined between the two parties and their attorneys.

It is a fact, however, that the divorce can bring on a great deal of negative feelings and acrimony between spouses. This acrimony can lead to disagreements that can hamper the negotiations process, making it more difficult to reach an agreement in a timely manner.

This is especially true in cases of high asset divorce, where a large number of valuable assets must be divided. The divorce settlement in these cases can be extremely complex; failure to cooperate can slow the negotiations to a crawl.

Cooperation can be hard to come by during a divorce, however. One expert recently released a number of guidelines for helping spouses deal with their negative feelings.

She noted that many of the harsh or angry feelings that one feels towards one's spouse are simply reflections of one's own fear and uncertainty. Fear of the future can make one more prone to lash out at one's spouse. It's important to remember, however, that your spouse is probably feeling these same kinds of feelings as well. You are both going through the same process.

The expert also warned against making assumptions about your spouse's behavior. During a divorce, people tend to project bad feelings onto their spouses; this leads people to assume that their spouse's words and actions are mean-spirited, or otherwise targeted at harming them. Spouses should be aware of this tendency and try to avoid making this jump to conclusions. Examine the facts, and listen to what your spouse is trying to say.

It can be difficult to reduce the acrimony in a relationship, especially as difficult issues such as child custody and property division are being discussed. But if both spouses make an effort to be civil and respectful, the divorce process can be completed more quickly and with fewer hurt feelings.

Source: The Huffington Post, "Don't Take Your Divorce Personally" Lisa Arends, Dec. 30, 2013

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