He or she was once your sweetheart, but that bond has been legally broken through divorce. Still, is it possible to stay friends with your ex? In my experience as a divorce and family law attorney for 20 years, I think it depends on the couple and whether children are involved.
When there are no children from the marriage, former married couples sometimes remain friends, but usually go their separate ways, often not seeing each other again or letting years pass. However, it’s a different story with children involved.
When ex-spouses are co-parents, they remain in contact with each other to discuss coordinating the time the children spend with each parent. The ex-spouses also encounter each other at school functions, sporting events and combined family events such as birthday parties. We have all heard the stories of how nasty ex-spouses can be towards each other, especially when children are involved. However, there are also ex-couples that find a way to co-parent and remain friends.
How do these couples remain friendly even after the heartbreak of divorce?
Couples that are the most successful in remaining friends post-divorce put the children first and realize by doing so, it is easier for all parties involved to be nice. When couples have a mutual understanding and respect for each other about parenting styles, it makes it easier for them to co-parent. Just because a husband and wife can no longer make their marriage work does not mean they are bad parents. The sooner ex-spouses can come to terms with this, the more likely they can remain friends after divorce.
Furthermore, while ex-spouses may no longer have romantic feelings for one another, they can still have a platonic relationship. A relationship is more than just a romantic bond, it also includes a friendship and shared interests. When a couple divorces, these common interests don’t necessarily dissolve. In fact, many couples meet through shared interests; running clubs, books clubs, cooking classes, etc. so these commonalities are helpful in trying to remain friendly even after divorce.
Similarly, people often have the misconception that just because a couple gets a divorce, everything must be split and changed – including traditions such as family vacations. If a couple has been taking family vacations with the children to go skiing every winter or to the lake every summer, these are good traditions to amicably continue.
If, as individuals, each ex-spouse still enjoys skiing, why should a divorce stop them from doing something they love? Also, this means the children can still have stability and tradition in their life after the divorce.
With our thoughts turning to Valentine’s Day, have you been able to remain friendly with your ex?