Divorce means different things to different people. Oil tycoon Harold Hamm and his homemaker wife Sue Ann got divorced in 2014, for example, after a bitter fight that culminated with Sue Ann cashing a check for $975 million dollars.
If you are fighting over billions of dollars in oil money, you may want to fight as hard as you can.
For most people, however, an amicable divorce is the best way to go.
Most people do not have much to fight over
According to studies by the U.S. Federal Reserve and private companies, most families do not have much money to split up in a divorce. Average credit card debt for American families is $5,700 per household, and they save virtually nothing.
According to surveys, 47% of Americans would have to borrow or sell something to cover an unexpected $400 expense because they do not have that kind of money on hand.
If you are splitting up $400 or a few thousand in credit card debt, you are not in a position to hire expensive lawyers to fight over your divorce. The most simple divorces can usually be worked out without a lawyer.
For example, the couple can simply agree to split their cash and credit card debt in half and then ask a judge to approve their amicable divorce settlement.
Another popular route is for a couple to hire one lawyer
That lawyer cannot represent the best interest of either spouse, instead, he or she must work to complete their amicable divorce as simple as possible for the benefit of both spouses.
If the couple stops working together amicably then the lawyer usually must be fired and each spouse will have to hire their own new lawyer to fight against each other.
Even in a contested divorce, though, it makes a big difference if the couple works together. If the two spouses let their lawyers share information openly and negotiate in good faith, the divorce is going to be much easier than if each side hides information and refuses to talk.
Do it for the kids
Gossip magazines are full of wealthy celebrity couples that split up but wind up staying close because of their kids. When Drew Barrymore split up with her husband Will Kopelman, the couple put out a statement saying “our children are our universe, and we look forward to living the rest of our lives with them as the first priority.” Ryan Phillippe says that he has to put his kids’ experience first when he is sharing parenting duties with his ex-wife Reese Witherspoon. Jennifer Garner and her ex-husband Ben Affleck still take family vacations together with their kids.
There are many legal reasons why everyone else should strive for healthy co-parenting arrangements. Hiring lawyers to fight custody battles is expensive. Even rich celebrities that can afford a drug-out custody battle usually do not go that route, though.
Courts have limited power to control divorced people on a day to day basis. A parent cannot run to the judge every time the other parent is a few minutes late to drop off the kids.
If the parents cannot work together on joint custody, the judge may simply decide that one parent should have full custody. Of course, a healthy co-parenting arrangement is probably best for the kids anyways.