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4 missteps that can turn an amicable divorce contentious

Ending a marriage can be a significant life event. It can also be complex and emotional. As such, there is the potential for a divorce to become contentious and bitter. However, there are ways to avoid this behaviour during divorce proceedings.

There are steps parties can take -- or rather not take -- to keep a divorce amicable.

To keep a divorce from becoming overly contentious, avoid:

Antagonizing your ex - Some people are on their best behaviour during mediation sessions or in front of a judge, but then turn around and act very differently when they get home. They might send mean texts, make inflammatory comments on social media or otherwise try to get a rise out of the other person. However, such efforts can get back to a judge and destroy any remaining amicability.

Refusing to negotiate - Entering divorce discussions with no intention to negotiate or compromise can immediately dissolve the hope of a peaceful process. If you will not negotiate when it comes to matters warranting compromise, any efforts to resolve such matters outside of court can fall short. Taking a cooperative approach and being prepared to negotiate during divorce, however, can make the process more productive and civil.

Making unfair or false allegations - Some people find that fabricating lies or painting another person in a harsh light will win them favour in a divorce. In reality, lies and misrepresentations of the truth can ultimately work against a person. Not only can it make the accuser seem unreliable and distrustful, it can also make the other party unable or unwilling to reach agreements outside of court.

Losing sight of the big picture - In the midst of a divorce, some people wind up fighting over every detail, making unrealistic demands or trying to use the system to hurt the other person in an effort to "win". However, divorce is not about winning or losing; it is about finding fair solutions that make it easier for parties to go their separate ways. And focusing on that goal allows parties to focus on the big picture and remain cooperative.

It is all but impossible to keep emotions and personal experiences out of a divorce. However, as these tips suggest, being thoughtful, realistic and reasonable can go a long way in preserving a modicum of respect throughout the process. 

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