Jocelyn and I have decided to divorce.
We desire these divorce proceedings to go as smoothly as possible and to ensure the best possible outcome for our children in the near and long term. We do not hate each other and wish to remain close friends. We must remain on amicable terms so that the children are not divided in their affections. Please respect these wishes and do not enter a private domestic battle you are not part and party to. You are entitled to your opinion, but we respectfully ask that you keep it to yourself as much as possible, and not involve our children.
Remember... you don't have to "choose a side".
The following is the original long form:
Few things are more polarizing than a divorce. In addition to the division of material assets, friends also gravitate to their divorcing friend and tend to shun the other spouse. The tendency of friends is to want to help and support your friend any way you can. There is nothing wrong with wanting to help and support your friend. This help is sometimes mistakenly done by insulting, or making derogatory remarks about the other's ex. It only increases tension in the already unbalanced emotional state and reinforces negative feelings and may result in spiteful and destructive actions. This undesirable situation is further compounded when there are children involved and hear this language. This is unacceptable as it places the children in the middle of the battle and forces them to pick sides. Such a state will only serve to harm the children. Using the children to seek your own sense of personal justice does not show that you have their best welfare in mind. You will not be helping to secure the best interest of the children by inflaming ire, hatred, and division between the separating couple.
Do not speak ill of your friend's former spouse. Creating animosity only places further stress in an already very stressful situation - this WILL be carried over in how the children are treated. Don't let the children hear your dislike for your friend's ex. Don't let them hear it through a third party such as telling your opinion to another child that the children play with or someone who may speak your ill opinion in front of the children. Don't speak ill by using euphemisms or in third-person; children are very good at figuring out who adults are speaking about. Children are sneaky and you may not think they are listening, but they always are even if the appear distracted or noisily engaged in play. If they are in earshot, they are listening. You don't have to speak in glowing terms and in praise of your friend's ex-spouse, but if a positive, or at least neutral, statement cannot be made then silence is truly the best option. Support your friend, but don't do it by fanning the flames; offer a shoulder to cry on, help with a chore, tell them you love them and will be by their side, offer words of comfort. There are lots of ways to help but with positive actions and statements. We have both personally committed ourselves to take the high road to ensure and secure the loving involvement of the other in our children's lives.
We desire these divorce proceedings to go as smoothly as possible and to ensure the best possible outcome for our children in the near and long term. We do not hate each other and wish to remain close friends. We must remain on amicable terms so that the children are not divided in their affections. Even living apart, it is in the children's best interest to know that both parents love them beyond measure. Even living apart, it still takes two parents to raise children with a healthy and well-balanced view of the world, love, and relationships. Please respect these wishes and do not enter a private domestic battle you are not part and party to. You are entitled to your opinion, but we respectfully ask that you keep it to yourself as much as possible.
... you have Jocelyn to thank for the short version ... Perhaps I know too many lawyers.