What is an amicable divorce?

May 18, 2021

Some of the richest people in the United States have gotten divorced lately. Bill Gates is going through one, Jeff Bezos is divorced and Kim Kardashian is divorcing Kanye West. All of these big divorces have something in common. Jeff Bezos settled and is apparently friendly with his ext. Kim and Kanye settled their custody arrangements. The Gates divorce will never go to trial. The thing they have in common: their lawyers all told them that they have a lot more to lose through the litigation process. Maybe there are things they want to keep out of the public arena. Maybe the cost is less. Maybe they are mentally ready to go through a battle, where everything is a point of contention.


Litigation is CRAZY expensive. For one hour of court time, I spent 2-5 hours preparing, outlining testimony, arranging exhibits and the like. For a day in Court, I could bill over $10,000 to be prepared – and you would owe that even if you lose. I am not alone. I bet the costliest attorney teams bill $2,000 per hour or more (remember, I said team of attorneys) to prepare. And the result of hearings like those? The exes cannot stand each other. They resent the process, the money spent, the outcome and everything about it. Healing does not come for months, if ever.


Amicable divorces are different. You save yourself the money by working on agreements with your soon-to-be-ex. You decide how to divide retirement accounts, savings and who is paying off the credit card debt. You decide how to divide the tax refunds. You decide how it is going to go, not the judge. And guess what? You tend to not hate your ex through the process. The tem amicable might be misleading – you certainly don’t have to like them – but you can stand to be in the same zip code without wishing they would be hit by a flaming meteor. But the process is amicable enough – its designed to not be a fight in court. And that is what we mean by an amicable divorce. Acting like adults and working together to come up with money saving solutions, not asking attorneys to argue over who gets the bathroom scale, the retirement, the dog and the car.