The Problem with (some) Amicable Divorces


I’m a wife, stepmom x3 and mom x 1 who when I couldn’t find the stepmom support I was looking for, decided to create it myself. I love mac + cheese, distressed denim, sauvignon blanc and all things Dateline. 

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An amicable divorce is always the goal.  It’s when a married couple can go their separate ways, while acting respectfully and logically – all in the best interest of the kids.

Amicable divorces ARE a good thing.

The problem is, couples who split amicably often do it themselves. They don’t seek legal advice, they don’t get legal documentation, they don’t create a co-parenting plan that outlines how the co-parenting relationship will work. They commit to figuring it out as they go.

This works REALLY well, until it doesn’t anymore.

Specifically, it works well until…

  • One parent enters a new relationship.
  • One parent suggests something for the holiday schedule that the other disagrees with.
  • One parent wants to make a decision that changes the kids’ lives, and the other strongly disagrees.
  • One parent wants a more structured agreement.
  • Holidays come and the parent in the new relationship isn’t so keen on the joint celebrations anymore.
  • Birthdays happen.
  • Conflict occurs.
  • Etc…

Then all of a sudden, figuring things out as you go leads to extreme conflict, heated discussions, and being stuck at a standstill.

I’ve seen this SO many times.

A woman starts dating a man with kids, they attempt to start their lives together and his agreement with his EX is a complete mess.

  • No predictability
  • No systems
  • Unnecessary conflicts over miniscule tasks
  • Pissing matches and turf wars
  • Hurt feelings

The list goes on. Not having a concrete legal agreement is a recipe for a co-parenting disaster.

Let me say that again… 

Now, this doesn’t mean that you can’t sit down like grown ass adults and go through your liabilities and assets and come up with a plan together.

It doesn’t mean that you can’t divide up tasks and create a co-parenting plan without exorbitant lawyers bills. You absolutely can.

But then, you should BOTH seek legal advice, to make sure that you’re not leaving anything out.

You need a detailed agreement about how everything will work – down to the very last details.

  • What does the holiday schedule look like?
  • Where will pick up and drop off take place? What time? Who drops off who?
  • Sports and extracurricular activities.
  • Who is responsible for what (appointments, shopping, signing up for extracurriculars)
  • How will you handle birthdays?
  • How will you pay child support?
  • How will you divide up extra expenses for the kids?
  • Who will do the hot lunch form?

The list goes on… I could literally write about 100 different thing that should be decided ahead of time.

Then, you simply add a little disclaimer at the bottom of the agreement that says “unless mutually agreed upon.”

This allows for flexibility so you can keep that “figure it out as you go” co-parenting style

— but NOW you have something to fall back on in the event that this approach backfires

— NOW you have a plan in place for WHEN disagreements arise.

You’ll notice I said WHEN. It’s inevitable. It’s going to happen.

This is just being smart.


Stepmoms often reach out to tell me that their partner is going back to court. They ask what I think they should include in their new agreement.

While I do not provide legal advice, here’s what I tell them as a friend.


Think back to anything and everything that has caused an issue over the last however many years and then plan to prevent it from happening again.

Create a system to avoid conflict and confusion.

Be smart.
Protect yourself.
While amicable is amazing and always the goal – you never know what will happen down the road.

Just like you would never enter into a business relationship without an iron clad agreement – you should never enter a co-parenting relationship without something written out as well.


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