We often hear people say, “the only ones who win in a divorce are the lawyers.” If you think about it in terms of money that’s true, as the average cost of family law litigation can be anywhere between $50,000 to $100,000, or often more depending on how acrimonious your relationship with your spouse is and what attitude you both take.

Then of course, there’s the mental and emotional toll that litigation has on you, your spouse and of course your children. Statistics show that mental health and behavioural problems are twice as likely to be reported by separated and divorced people than those in intact relationships.

So how do you achieve an amicable settlement and avoid the impact a litigious and vicious separation or divorce has on us and our families? We need to create a calm and amicable environment, get good advice, be open to alternative avenues of dispute resolution and be willing to compromise, looking forward, not back. The following tips will assist you to achieve this:

  1. Behave, be civil and show respect.

You will need to avoid blaming your ex-spouse or others around you for your situation. Stop listening to everyone else and let your better judgement guide you. Every action you choose to take is yours. No one has the power to make your separation calm and peaceful but you. If you can avoid laying blame, and let go of any resentment and anger, we lesson the hold the bitterness and resentment has on our lives.

Be aware of your actions, your behaviour and the impact this is having on your decision making. You need to use your values to guide you, to think deeply about what you really need and what is going to make your life easier. Do not be reactive to a situation, rather stay calm and make good, informed responses. This may involve holding off on an email or text until you are in the right frame of mind.  Avoid behaviour that is likely to create tension and arguments, such as withdrawing large sums of money from accounts or selling assets.

  1. Get Legal Information not necessarily Legal Advice.

You must negotiate from a place of information and knowledge and not emotion or pain. So, hold off on any drastic decision making until you have had the chance to gather all the information you need to be able to negotiate.

Make the time to talk with someone who will give you legal information (over legal advice) rather than immediately running off to see a lawyer and getting often costly, legal advice. You will often find that there are many avenues available to you that are less expensive and are a kinder more amicable way to resolve your matter on your own, without even the need to engage legal advice.

Also, if you both have a basic understanding as to how things work, you will have realistic expectations and create a much better space to negotiate your own settlement.

  1. Be willing to compromise.

You need to be willing to be open to all options and solutions that may be available to you. You will need to listen carefully, gather as much information and guidance about each option before you make any decisions.

Do not go into the process with demands and accusations, you need to be free and willing to create agreements that will work for not just you, but also for your partner and your family. To do this you may need to place yourself in the shoes of your ex-partner so that you can also consider what things are like for them and how things will look for them moving forward. 

  1. Look forward not backwards.

Finally, you really need to be looking into the future. Consider what goals you have, what you and your family need to be happy and thrive moving forward. To look back at this point, will only cause more anger and grief. This may mean you need to compromise on small issues, such as who gets to keep the fridge, so that you have a positive effect on your relationship moving forward.

Remember all of this is so important if you have children and will be for many years to come, needing to work out arrangements, birthdays and even eventually weddings.  Even if you don’t have children, it will have a positive impact on your mental health and your bank balance.


Kirsty Salvestro is a Family Lawyer, Mediator and Divorce Guide and the author of the book What are we fighting for? A Peaceful Pathway for separating couples. She has written a very practical book that will guide you through each of these steps and teach you the best possible way to navigate your separation peacefully. Find out more at






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