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Wisconsin Family Law Articles

My Spouse and I Can’t Stand Each Other: Can We Divorce Amicably?

When a marriage turns toward divorce, two people who were once a couple become legal adversaries. Often the change happens quickly, and those involved have little time to emotionally adjust. Having to deal with the heartbreak of divorce while defending everything you have worked for during the marriage can create a lot of hostility. Sometimes the stress and pain of the situation can produce so much animosity that you may question how you and your ex were ever married. As you prepare for your case, you may be thinking: My spouse and I can’t stand each other. Can we divorce amicably?

Understanding Divorce Settlement

When you think of divorcing "amicably," it may sound as if you and your ex have to cooperate and agree on all of the terms in your case. If you have been hurt or betrayed, the mere idea of working with your former spouse during the divorce may seem absurd. The good news is that settling your divorce case doesn't mean you have to collaborate directly with your ex. Nor does it mean that you agree with everything your ex wants, or that you have to like one another or get along. Instead, divorce settlement involves both sides working with their respective attorneys to develop a relatively equitable agreement.

Divorce Options


The majority of Wisconsin divorces are settled outside of court. The parties may decide to settle after their attorneys have been through several exchanges. Reaching settlement the old fashioned way (by hostile letter or nasty email) tends to be acrimonious and expensive, and negotiations can drag on throughout the case. Further, you and your ex could end up negotiating right up until your final hearing date. When you choose to negotiate this way, you run the risk of developing more animosity and ending up with less favorable terms. Additionally, if things go off course, you may ultimately have to go to a final hearing.
Fortunately, there are other means to work toward settlement that can be more cost-effective and efficient. By using divorce mediation, both sides may be able to work through their differences and reach settlement without incurring extraordinary fees or prolonging the case.

Divorce Mediation

Divorce mediation involves having a trained mediator, usually a family law attorney or former judge, help facilitate settlement between the parties. The mediator will be someone knowledgeable about Wisconsin divorce law who has been specially trained to assist parties as they work through their case issues. This neutral third party will gather information from you and your ex and work with each of you to determine how to best settle the various terms in your case.

In some cases, divorce mediation will be mandatory. In Wisconsin, parents who can’t agree on custody and child placement are required to attend meditation before setting a final hearing. Divorce mediation is not binding, meaning that if you and your ex can't agree on some or all of your terms, you can walk away. The process is also confidential. Therefore, the information you communicate during mediation negotiations cannot be used against you in court.

One of the most valuable aspects of divorce mediation is that it requires each side to momentarily step away from fighting each other. As the parties gather needed information their focus can shift away from being in conflict. Under these conditions, both sides may be open to alternatives that they had not previously considered.

Even if you and your ex strongly dislike one another, using divorce mediation can be a highly beneficial process. Often both sides can use mediation to settle their disputes while also saving time and money.
Every case is unique, and if you and your ex can't or won't settle, you may have to go to a hearing. However, it's important to remember that the court can only decide issues in a limited number of ways. By contrast, divorce mediation allows the parties more creativity and flexibility to develop terms that fit their circumstances.

You Have Control Over Your Reactions

Another way to divorce more peacefully is by choosing not to add to the conflict between you and your ex. You don't have to like one another to proceed in a mutually respectful manner. Further, being petty or unreasonable won’t improve your case. These actions usually only make matters worse.

Although you can't control your ex's behavior, you can make decisions for yourself. When you stay out of the drama with your ex and remain focused on achieving the best results possible for your case, it can only be to your benefit.  If you have children together, that is all the more reason to refrain from being outwardly hostile towards one other. Your kids need you both to maintain civility. It's also essential to recognize that you will only harm them and their ability to recover from losing their family when you hurt one another.

If you have not consulted with a family law attorney regarding your case, you should do so as soon as possible. An experienced Wisconsin family law attorney can help you evaluate your circumstances and explore your settlement options.

Consult with an Experienced Wisconsin Family Law Attorney

Attorney and Mediator Karyn Youso of First Look Family Law has extensive experience helping clients evaluate their circumstances and consider their choices during and after Wisconsin divorce. She understands the complexities of life before, during, and after divorce and can help you access the resources you need at every stage.

Come in, and let us take a “first look” at your situation to help you figure out your next steps. Please contact us today to set up a time to meet.