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Is it possible to have a 'peaceful' divorce?

Is a "peaceful" divorce even possible? Aren't all divorces filled with so much emotional and financial upheaval that conflict is guaranteed?

"Not so," say the experts. Just like most of life's trials, the way that you approach the situation tends to dictate how stressful a divorce will become.

If you want to keep your divorce conflict-free, here are some tips for you and your spouse:

1. Treat each other with respect

Depending on what's happened, it can be hard to put your emotions in check and act with civility toward your spouse, but it's an essential step if you want a peaceful divorce. Consider treating your spouse with at least as much respect as you'd show a stranger in a business meeting -- even if you didn't like that stranger very much. Indulging in your desire to show your contempt for your spouse's previous actions will only damage your present ability to negotiate.

2. Find common ground

It sounds a little crazy, at first, to think about finding common ground with someone you're divorcing, but you can probably do it. Maybe you can both agree to put your children first. If you don't have children, maybe you can agree that you both want to move on as quickly as possible, with a minimum of expense. Whatever it is, that's where you can start your negotiations.

3. Rule out other options

Give yourself a cooling-off period if there's any doubt that a divorce is what you want. If you're conflicted about your decision, that can make your feelings much harder to handle.

4. Don't go straight for litigation

There are a lot of alternatives to a litigated divorce. Many couples, starting with their shared goals and maintaining a veneer of civility toward each other, find that they can work through their divorce with just a little help. Mediated divorces, where a neutral third party helps couples find a workable agreement is one solution that can keep you out of the courtroom.

If your spouse won't work with you, there's always litigation -- but you should definitely give yourself the opportunity for a divorce that's as amicable as possible. In the future, you may be glad you gave peace the opportunity.

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