It’s always heartwarming and inspiring to see a couple who have been married for thirty or forty years and still enjoy living together. It gives us all hope that relationships, although hard work, can last in the long term. But it’s a mistake to think that a marriage has “failed” when it reaches the point of divorce. A significant percentage of marriages do end in divorce, but that doesn’t mean the relationship wasn’t a positive, constructive thing. It’s especially important to acknowledge this if there are children involved. Kids are often more perceptive than we adults give them credit for — and if one or both parents are angry or bitter (either during or after the divorce process), children will often blame themselves.

In this day and age, we need to look at the question of divorce with that “big picture” perspective. In other words, we need to explore what makes a successful divorce. Is there such a thing?

Most people would say yes. The decisions we make and the perspectives we hold during the divorce process are bound to have lasting effects — especially if there are children involved. When divorce is an open, fair and detailed process, everybody gains in the end. On the other hand, when divorce is characterized by disputes, bitter arguments and eventually legal battles, the whole experience is stressful, expensive and time-consuming.

1. Comprehensive and fair

We certainly can’t say a divorce is successful when one or both parties feels like they’ve gotten the short end of the stick, either financially or in terms of child custody and visitation. A successful divorce unravels all of the various detailed involved in a divorce, allows each perspective to be considered, and even brings in experts to further clarify the details, preferences, and legalities in play. Both parties should come away feeling the process was fair, detailed and accurate — and the results of the divorce should reflect that.

2. Economical

Nor can we say a divorce is successful when it ends up costing thousands, or even tens of thousands, in fees paid to divorce lawyers. This is definitely a situation divorcing couples want to avoid at all costs, and professional divorce mediation is a good first step in producing a more amicable and sensible financial result.

3. Relatively fast

Finally, time is a factor. “Messy” divorce battles can drag on for months, or in some cases even years. Again, this is far from ideal — especially when children are caught in the middle. If a highly qualified mediator had been called in to explore a more constructive approach with the divorcing couple, things could have been wrapped up much sooner — and the scars of this transition (emotional, financial and so forth) could have already had a chance to heal.

Can your divorce be successful?

It’s time to stop thinking that divorce is necessarily a destructive or negative thing. In fact, many divorces lead to happier, more balanced lives for both partners. By focusing on constructive conversations and outcomes, your divorce can be successful in all the ways that really matter. In order to get there, the professional services of a divorce mediation expert (particularly one who is formally trained in both the emotional and financial side of mediation) can be indispensible.