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Is a friendly divorce a realistic goal?

There is hardly a scene more toxic than a typical scorched earth divorce when both spouses have a take-no-prisoners approach to the split. Instead, consider using the following tips to emerge on the other side single, yet still sane and capable of compassion for your former spouse.

-- Blame doesn't have to be assigned. Underneath all of the anger and pain lurks the desire to pin the blame for the failed relationship on the other spouse. Resist this temptation and try instead to understand what caused the wheels to fall off the marriage and how these problems can be avoided in the future.

-- Focusing on the mistakes you made as opposed to your spouse's failings can lead to personal development and growth. Remember that after this process is over, you will still be responsible for your own habits and responses. Changing what doesn't work can create healthier future relationships.

-- Develop better communication skills. If you have children, a divorce is not going to end your relationship. You will still have to communicate about the children. Learning how to do so effectively can lead to a healthier divorce environment than was present during the marriage.

-- Be realistically fair about settlement offers without becoming overly generous. Sometimes, you have to give a little to gain a lot.

-- Consider short-term counseling to resolve unaddressed issues. We all have baggage that can become too great a burden for a relationship to bear. Working through some of yours can bring clarity and emotional health.

Your family law attorney may be able to recommend a counselor for you or your children to see while going through a divorce.

Source: Psychology Today, "8 Guidelines for a Friendly Divorce," Susan Heitler Ph.D., accessed July 15, 2015

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