Divorce doesn't have to be traumatic - an expert shares 'peaceful' options

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Divorce can be a smooth process for some but for others a costly and emotionally taxing court battle.
Divorce can be a smooth process for some but for others a costly and emotionally taxing court battle.
Photo: Catherine Falls Commercial/Getty Images

  • Attorney and managing director Simon Dippenaar of SD Law and Associates, shares that the objective of divorce is to end a legal contract between two people who once loved each other. 
  • "We've seen the havoc wreaked by hostile divorces – on the spouses, their families and friends and, most importantly, their children."
  • While divorcing peacefully is the most economical way to dissolve a marriage, it has other benefits, like safeguarding children and your mental well-being. 

Going through a divorce can feel like the world is ending. Realising that the happily-ever-after you envisioned is not playing out as you had wished can be devastating.

No one gets married to divorce, so when two people who once loved each other go their separate ways, it can get ugly. Ultimately, no matter what happens or how either party feels, there is a legally binding contract that sets the rules.

This may be a smooth process for some but for others a costly and emotionally taxing court battle. 

READ MORE | The truth about going through a divorce - 'Once it was over, I became the enemy'

Attorney and managing director Simon Dippenaar of SD Law and Associates says that the objective of divorce is to end a legal contract between two people who once loved each other and now no longer feel able to continue their life together.

"Most divorce attorneys want to help their clients find the most efficient, economic and (relatively) painless means to move on. But despite the divorce attorney's best intentions, many divorces end up costing a lot – and not just in terms of money," Simon says.

While the process can be painful and full of spite, he believes a divorce can be dignified. 

"We've seen the havoc wreaked by hostile divorces – on the spouses, their families and friends and, most importantly, their children.

"It can take adults years to recover from a traumatic divorce. Children may be affected for life. It's not worth it."

READ MORE | Marriage therapist shares 10 common causes of divorce

Here are divorce options to help you survive this challenging time:

mediated divorce falls between a contested and uncontested divorce. In an uncontested divorce, the spouses work together to agree on divorce terms, including maintenance, division of assets, child care and contact, and other important decisions. Both spouses may appoint an impartial attorney to draft the official settlement agreement, which is signed by both parties and made an order of the court.

What's your divorce story? Tell us about it here.



While contested divorces, by contrast, happen when the spouses cannot reach an agreement, generally due to disputes over maintenance, division of assets and child care. Feelings run high and emotional blackmail may creep in. Contested divorces involve multiple court appearances and high legal costs, not to mention the personal trauma caused.

READ MORE | Is writing your in-laws off ever a good idea? A therapist's tough advice for keeping the peace

"When divorcing couples are struggling to reach an agreement, the divorce attorney may recommend a skilled mediator to facilitate the dispute settlement to avoid a drawn-out court battle. This is called a mediated divorce," he shares.

The mediation process gives both spouses more control over the terms and conditions of their divorce agreement. A mediated divorce saves a lot of time, taking, on average, three months to resolve. Compare this to one to two years – or more – that a contested divorce can take to finalise.

Simon says divorcing peacefully and with dignity is not just good for your mental health; it's good for your bank balance. 

While divorcing peacefully is the most economical way to dissolve a marriage it has other benefits, like safeguarding children and your mental well-being and, ultimately, minimising conflict. 

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