If you’ve divorced and have children, you’re going to have to co-parent with your ex. When co-parenting, you’re going to have to communicate with your ex.
For some, that may feel like a Herculean task. If you’re one of those who have a hard time with the concept of regular co-parenting communication with your ex, we’ve put together so best practices for you.
Best Practices When Communicating with Your Co-Parent
First, your new relationship with your (ex)spouse/co-parent is a long term relationship.
While you may no longer be married, you are co-parents to one or more children. Weekly, if not daily, communication is necessary regarding your children. Communication will be more frequent when children are younger and likely decrease as they age. However, even after children reach 18 and leave the house, your co-parent will still be part of your life.
Who will the children spend holidays and summers with when no longer governed by your divorce decree? Should you have an agreement about giving your children spending money? When they get married and start a family on their own, how will the logistics of family events be handled? The answers to these questions will likely hinge on your relationship not only with your children but with your ex as well.
Healthy co-parenting communication will improve family dynamics.
Your children link you with your (ex)spouse for life. The better you communicate, the healthier your relationship will be. You can’t be petty during the divorce and believe that won’t impact how your children, or your ex, treat you at key events like high school and college graduation, wedding ceremonies, and the birth of grandchildren.
Second, consider the legal ramifications of your communication about your co-parent.
Many divorce decrees contain specific prohibitions regarding what you can or cannot say about your ex. Often these bar negative statements made directly to your children. However, you also need to be careful not to say things publicly that could result in a claim of slander or defamation.
If you are hurt and lash out with public comments that make your ex look bad, those comments may result in harm to their reputation or value. Not only could this impact their ability to help support your children, but you could also be subject to civil liabilities for these statements.
Beyond that, depending on the age of your children, they may hear these comments directly or from others and it could hurt their relationship with their ex and with you as well. They may lose respect for you if you are saying negative things about their parent.
Third, keep a record of all of your communication.
Keeping track of all of your communication will keep you organized. It can also protect you down the road if your ex wants to decrease child support, increase their share of custody, change schools or move outside the county or state.
There are several methods you can use to help you organize and store your ongoing communication.
One is via email. However, you need to ensure that you are regularly archiving and backing up the emails.
Another method is to use a tool like FamilyDocket. FamilyDocket allows you to communicate inside the application itself or via text message while storing the communications automatically. Avoid he said v. she said situations because these messages cannot be edited, tampered with or deleted.
Even better, they can be linked with your attorney which can save you time and money. Tools like these improve behavior because your ex knows that communication is being tracked and stored. Elevating the communication you are receiving initially will decrease the back and forth and set a standard for proceeding in a healthy way. Create efficiency by sharing calendar appointments and tracking joint expenses through this kind of service as well.
Bottom line: take the high road, even if you daydream about the low road!