Harmonious Separation: A Personal Story of Amicable Divorce

co-parenting mediation
couple works through an amicable divorce

Guest post by Kelly Shaw, Mediator

This is NOT your typical blog post about why to use a mediator…this is my personal story about how an amicable divorce is possible. 

If you Google "reasons to use a divorce mediator," you will get thousands of results. Luckily, most will have the same answers and give you a list of reasons. But how do you really know if these reasons are valid? Although they can be helpful and give good insights and facts, they are really just ideas from different sources. So I am here to tell you my story…my reasons why using a divorce mediator was the best option – and how it led me to become a divorce mediator!

I admit my ex and I have always been amicable. We were fortunate enough to recognize and accept that our marriage had run its course. No deceit or blame was involved; we married young and grew apart as time went on. Despite this, our mutual respect allowed us to navigate the divorce process together.

While it's true that we experienced negative emotions, we made a joint decision to end things on our own terms, using a divorce mediator. We had no desire for a lengthy, costly, and acrimonious divorce process. We agreed that involving lawyers and the court would only complicate matters for us and, more importantly, for our son.

Remaining true to ourselves and each other was our priority, and a divorce mediator helped us achieve an amicable divorce. It's worth mentioning that even individuals in contentious relationships can benefit from the assistance of a divorce mediator, although it may not always be as straightforward as our experience.

Keep reading to discover my personal story about how a compassionate and skilled divorce mediator expertly guided my former partner and me through an amicable divorce process. With their guidance, we were able to navigate the challenging journey of separation with understanding, respect, and open communication, ultimately reaching a fair and mutually beneficial resolution that prioritized the well-being and happiness of everyone involved.


5 Reasons Divorce Mediation Facilitated My Amicable Divorce 

1. We were able to remain friends.

Arguably, one of the most positive outcomes of an amicable divorce is maintaining a friendship with your ex-partner. I decided to start with this reason because I feel it is one of the best outcomes (if not the best) a divorce can have. I spent almost 20 years with my spouse, including most of my college days. We also have a son together. We knew each other better than anyone and had experienced so much together, so I was glad to know I could still count on him. 

Having an amicable divorce made remaining friends so much easier. Utilizing mediation for our divorce process allowed us to remain in charge. We decided when and how often we would meet. It was up to us to make the decisions on our divorce, and it was on our timeline. We chose to have an amicable divorce, and the mediator helped us to make that possible.

We also created the divorce agreement. It was our mutual conclusion regarding child support, property division, and, most importantly, the parenting plan (i.e., parenting time, holiday schedules, financial responsibilities, etc.). We controlled the narrative and outcome. 

This allowed us enough space to lead us to a good ending. I can't imagine having to find a divorce lawyer – how do you even start? Plus, all the back and forth between lawyers must make a person exhausted, frustrated, and bitter, right? It could easily build a wall between two people, and defenses would be high. But going through the divorce with a mediator helped us realize we really had each other's backs.

Was It Easy?

Did remaining friends simply happen? I have to be honest -- not exactly. It took work on both of our parts to get where we are today. In fact, it started off well right after we split. I think that happens when you are so used to talking to and leaning on someone. We still wanted to be there for each other and our son, and we were.

But then it got a little rocky, as can be expected when you both try to move on. I would often think -- this is what I wanted, right? Navigating so many new things like single parenting, work, bills, and even dating was difficult. But eventually, we settled into our new, separate lives and were able to gain a new-found normal. I am so happy that we can have birthday parties and other celebrations for our son together. We can even chat about the little things. Believe me, that makes life so much easier!

Over time, our friendship has grown and deepened. We have built a strong foundation of trust and understanding, rooted in our shared experiences and commitment to our son. Through open communication and compromise, we have learned to navigate the challenges that come with co-parenting and maintaining a healthy friendship.

It hasn't always been easy, but the effort has been worth it. Today, we can genuinely say that we are not just co-parents, but also true friends. We support each other, celebrate milestones together, and have each other's backs when times get tough. Our friendship has become an invaluable part of our lives, and I am grateful for the bond we have created.

So, no, remaining friends didn't simply happen. It took dedication, patience, and a willingness to put in the work. But the result is a friendship that has stood the test of time and continues to bring joy and support to both of us.


2. I felt confident in the agreement, and there were no surprises.

One of the reasons I was incredibly thankful for the decision to use a divorce mediator was the opportunity it provided to collaboratively create the agreement in real time. My spouse and I actively engaged in constructive discussions, exchanging ideas and negotiating directly with each other. This allowed us to find the best possible outcome that suited both of our needs.

During the mediation meetings, as well as in our personal time afterward, we diligently worked together, occasionally even receiving "homework" assignments to complete between sessions. This proactive approach left me feeling well-prepared and confident for our subsequent meetings, as there were no unexpected surprises along the way.

Moreover, the fact that we were able to create the agreement together brought an immense sense of peace to my mind. Knowing that my spouse was actively involved and in agreement with the decisions made eliminated the need to endure lengthy waiting periods to hear back from lawyers or navigate a convoluted chain of communication involving multiple parties. The potential anxiety and stress that often accompany such situations were significantly mitigated, allowing for a smoother and more manageable process overall.


3. The divorce mediator simply talked to us.

This one may sound obvious, but it's worth highlighting the notable impact it had on our overall divorce experience. When we engaged with our divorce mediator, it made a significant difference to know that our conversations would be just that - genuine conversations rather than one-sided lectures. This approach fostered an amicable atmosphere throughout the process. Our mediator actively listened to our concerns and responded appropriately, ensuring that we were on equal footing. Picture us, sitting at a table, engaging in simple yet meaningful dialogue.

In contrast, considering the alternative route of going through courts and lawyers, we realized how much more challenging, time-consuming, and stressful those conversations could become. However, after each mediation session, we found ourselves in a positive space, feeling productive and empowered with our agreements. Our divorce mediator's friendly and calm demeanor, coupled with her genuine desire for the best outcome for both of us, made us feel truly fortunate.

What set our mediator apart was her ability to offer valuable perspective and future-oriented advice - something we would not have received in a courtroom. For instance, she pointed out that we were lucky to have a son who loved playing sports year-round. She highlighted that regardless of whose "day" it was, we could always see him because the fields and courts were public. This insight created a fun environment where we could both cheer for our child and fostered a great co-parenting relationship over the years.

The attention to detail, genuine conversations, and the added perspective our divorce mediator brought to the table significantly contributed to our amicable divorce and the positive co-parenting relationship we have today. 

4. We didn't lose ourselves in the process.

I'm happy to say that I didn't come out of this process bitter and angry. Sure, there were still a lot of emotions, highs, and lows, but I was able to remain myself and not get lost in the ugly side of divorce. 

With mediation, communication is easier. We could just talk to each other and come to an agreement and move on to the next issue or topic to discuss. This led to a better relationship post-divorce. In fact, we were so comfortable that we drove to our mediation sessions together!


5. The mediation office was comfortable.

You may not think of this one as a reason, but it truly was. Don't underestimate how nice it was to sit in a neutral, calm, non-threatening, non-contentious place to meet. The office was welcoming and quiet. It was just the three of us, (me, my spouse, and the mediator). There were no other lawyers, paralegals, assistants, or clients milling around. Instead, we were very comfortable going there and knew what to expect.

This would also hold true with the more modern way to have a divorce mediation session – via video. Sitting in your own space, with surroundings you are comfortable with, can help encourage open and honest conversations with your spouse.  


A Win for Amicable Divorce Through Mediation 

If you're still reading this post, it's probably obvious that I'm very happy my ex and I were able to use a mediator. I wanted to write this post so you could understand that amicable divorces are possible with mediation. Divorce doesn't have to mean a long, contentious court battle. If you want to have an amicable divorce, it's a choice you have to make again and again throughout the divorce process. 

Both of us and our son are better off for having a quick and amicable divorce. It was such a good experience that I decided to take mediation training, so I could help others as well. I hope you decide to use a mediator, too. You, your spouse, and your entire family will be better off in the long run.

Click here to learn more about our mediation services.

How Our Financial Analysts Can Help You Achieve an Amicable Divorce

A key to maximizing the efficacy of your mediation is preparation. By ensuring you're well-equipped with knowledge, you can make the most of your time and efforts. We're here to provide clarity on potential financial outcomes, preparing you to negotiate your financial settlement with confidence. Reach out to us and discover how collaborating with a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst (CDFA) before and during mediation can simplify decisions and reduce stress throughout the process.


Other blog posts related to having an amicable divorce:

How to Prepare for Mediation: A Divorce Mediation Checklist

Post-Divorce Parenting Conflict Around the Holidays

Online Mediation: How to 'Zoom' Your Way to Divorce

How to Ask Your Spouse to Mediate Your Divorce


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