amicable's Behaviour Charter and the A, B, C of a successful separation

Originally published on 2nd December 2019 at 1:54 PM
Reading time: 4 mins
Link copied to clipboard

I know it’s tough getting divorced. During mine, I often said I just wanted an amicable divorce. But it was a lot harder to behave in an amicable way when I felt I was big provoked at every turn. After a while I fell into the trap of anticipating or expecting a hostile response and soon, I read hostility into everything. It’s a race to the bottom when you’re both experiencing your separation in those terms, and it doesn’t usually end well.

My key motivation for setting up amicable was to help others avoid what I have been through. Today, I am very lucky to work with separating couples who understand this better than I did and can achieve an amicable divorce. Of course, they have our help to do this but what’s interesting about these people is that they are no different to you or me. They aren’t saints, they aren’t better or worse than anyone else. They’re not all one personality type either and their financial and family situations all vary.

*What sets them apart is their behaviour.

Learning from our customers is a cornerstone of what we do, and so we have devised the ABC chart for behaviour when divorcing or separating.

The good thing about behaviour is that it can be learned. It doesn’t have to come naturally, and it isn’t reliant on anyone else. You can learn behaviour and then choose to apply it.

You can use this ABC behaviour chart as a template, whether you’re starting or ending your separation; whether you’re co-parents or keeping in touch for other reasons.

The ABC model of behaviour for separating couples

We will behave with We will avoid
a focus on the future and the interests of our child(ren) dwelling on the past or focusing on our individual rights or legal claims
integrity and good faith and seek to ensure a future co-parenting relationship is built on trust Bad mouthing the other person or putting at risk our future relationship
a commitment to truth, being open and honest in the information we provide, volunteering relevant information even if doing so appears to be contrary to our interests being unbalanced or less than honest in the way information is presented
respect and kindness, using first names (rather than “he” or “she”). Making “I” statements (e.g. “it makes me angry when you don’t respond to important messages) criticism and sarcasm or speaking for the other person, or entering into email arguments and cc’ing our Divorce Specialist
patience and a desire to learn the other person’s perspectives and concerns, even if this means the process moves slower than one of us may like interruptions (because we will get a chance to contribute and be heard in our turn)
a focus on the underlying things that are important to us taking positions, making threats, or issuing ultimatums
a creative and constructive approach to problem solving becoming fixed on one point to the exclusion of the whole, criticizing when someone changes their mind
commitment to move the process forward and be prepared to meet deadlines failing to express our point of view, failing to speak up if things aren’t working or having our Divorce Specialist take over resolving the issues

We hope that by committing to working in an open and transparent way and sticking to the behaviour you’ll maximise the potential for a truly amicable divorce.

If you’d like to explore this topic further, listen to this episode of The Divorce Podcast where Kate Daly is joined by Relate counsellors, Dee Holmes, and Peter Saddington to discuss the beginning of a separation:

If you have any questions, or would like some support, please book a free 15-minute call with one of our experts here.


What is unreasonable behaviour in a divorce?

In England and Wales, unreasonable behaviour used to be one of five grounds you could put on a divorce petition (now called divorce application) as to why you want to divorce. Unreasonable behaviour in a divorce is your ex-partner behaving in a way so that you cannot realistically live with them nor negotiate with them when it comes to the divorce or separation process, your financial separation or your child arrangements.

What to do if you’re going through a divorce and unreasonable behaviour occurs?

If unreasonable behaviour slips into abuse, then you’ll need to take action. You can reach out to Refuge – The National Domestic Violence Charity. You can call and speak to someone who can provide advice. Contact them on tel:08082000247. You can search for a solicitor who is legal aid registered and they will explain how they can help you can access legal support to help you with all aspects of your divorce including your finances. Search the Resolution database or Court Nav for assistance in obtaining legal aid advice specialising in Domestic Abuse.

How long does a divorce take for unreasonable behaviour?

Unreasonable behaviour in divorce can significantly slow the process down. If unreasonable behaviour is occurring, you can get help at citizen’s advice and you can search the Resolution database or Court Nav for assistance in obtaining legal aid advice specialising in unreasonable/abusive behaviour on divorce.

Read More

Support for co-habiting couples

Speak to an amicable Coach for support agreeing on your financial and/or childcare arrangements if you're not married or in a civil partnership.

Book a free 15-minute consultation

Comments (0)

By clicking submit you accept our privacy policy.
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.