Just because your marriage was bad, there’s no rule that says your divorce has to turn into a nightmare. Lots of couples find a way to end their marital relationship without going to war. If you want to be among them, here’s where to start.

  1. Be kind. Once you’ve decided to end your marriage, don’t spread the word among your friends or relatives until you’ve told your spouse.
  2. Be respectful. The marriage is over, so there’s no point in dragging up all of your spouse’s faults and failures. Focus on moving forward, not rehashing the past.
  3. Commit to a goal. What does your vision of the future look like? What about your spouse’s? Odds are good, neither of you wants a pitched battle in court over the assets or the kids, so agree that you both want to prioritize a peaceful split.
  4. Negotiate fairly. That means being upfront and honest about your assets and debts, not playing games with discovery documents and leveling about your plans.
  5. Find a safe outlet. There will be times that your frustrations feel overwhelming. Find a therapist or a trusted friend to talk to about your feelings. Don’t let the pressure build up until you blow up at your spouse or find yourself making angry posts on social media in the middle of the night.

There are huge benefits to ending your marriage in a civil fashion. You generally end up with a custody agreement that’s more personalized to your family’s needs, a fairer split of the marital debts and assets and a much faster divorce (with less expense). If you’re ready to get started on your divorce, find out what steps you should take next.