If there is one lesson more important than any other that I learnt from my mum, it’s that when relationships fail children should come first.
Always and without fail.
My parents divorced when I was eighteen. I was in technical terms at least an adult, and as such was far more aware than my 11 year old brother about what was happening. I remember with pride the way my mum shielded my brother from what was really happening. And the way that despite her own hurt she never said anything negative to him about our dad.
Unlike friends’ parents who squabbled about custody, using the children as pawns. Mine never did. Instead my brother visited my dad whenever he wanted. My mum sobbed when he’d gone out the door but never let him see her pain.
As far as it’s ever possible, from his point of view, the process was non-traumatic.
When my own marriage failed it was therefore with this in mind, that I thought about my own daughter and her relationship with her dad. I knew that whatever happened between us, she needed us both in her life. And however hard that has been at times it is something that has remained in the forefront of our decisions.
Our split was amicable. We both knew our relationship wasn’t working, neither party had done anything ‘wrong’, we were simply no longer compatible and we both felt that divorce would lead to a happier future for all three of us.
Over the last nine years we have managed to keep a positive relationship with each other for the sake of our daughter.
However, there was one point where that was very nearly put in jeopardy. After we had been separated for three years we decided to divorce officially, and each instructed a solicitor.
Both told us different things about our rights and entitlements. Both encouraged us to fight for as much as possible. And both sent letters back and forth that incited animosity. Neither seemed interested in what was morally right or what was best for our family.
Amidst the chaos it was difficult to keep in our minds that what was important was our daughter and her future.
But luckily several months in, we sat and had a conversation and did just that. We talked, drew up our own agreement about what we felt was financially fair, and got friends to witness it. The solicitors continued to process the divorce itself but we shut them out from the rest.
I have no idea whether our on paper agreement would be legally binding, but nine years on it still holds, despite us both now having new partners and children. Our daughter knows she is loved by both families. And morally we both know we did what was right for her future.
For us, solicitors weren’t the neutral calming force we had hoped they would be. They were the epitome of the opposite.
That’s why when I heard about a new app called amicable, that I was keen to talk about it on the blog. You see the focus of amicable is not only on making divorce cheaper, but on putting the focus on the family, of keeping things amicable.
Amicable aims to make divorce, faster, fairer and cheaper. Created after Kate (one of the founders of the company), had her own traumatic divorce, the aim is to ensure that parents really can stay on good terms. The company offer several fixed price services, plus an intuitive app designed to guide both parties through the process. They even have divorce coaches on hand to answer questions over the phone.
Fingers crossed it’s a service I will never need again. But I’m glad to know it’s there.
After all, our children deserve to come first.
Disclaimer: This is a collaborative post with amicable. However, as always all views and opinions are my own.