Preparing to Co-Parent: Communication is Key
In a divorce where children are involved, additional challenges arise as you and your ex-spouse figure out how to co-parent effectively. Most judges in a court of law will determine that joint custody is in the best interest of the child(ren) unless one parent has proven to be dangerous to or unable to provide for the child. Children generally benefit from both parents being a part of their life, but it is your responsibility as the parents to enable your children to have a good relationship with their mother and father.
The key to co-parenting is effective communication. You will want to communicate with your ex only as often as is necessary to convey important information about your child. You do not have to be friends with your ex, but you should treat them with respect, especially in front of your children. Some suggestions for effective co-parenting communication include:
- Keep the conversation focused on your child and their needs.
- Do not needlessly drudge up the past - focus on the present problem or circumstance.
- Do not make assumptions or use language that accuses. Keep a level head.
- Communicate with them the way you want them to communicate with you, even if they do not initially reciprocate.
- Be courteous, business-like, and cooperative.
Can I Text My Ex?
Some parents aren't sure which medium to use to communicate to ensure they are not crossing boundaries. It often depends on the relationship between the parents, but most often, the best form of communication is through e-mail. E-mails allow parents to correspond directly while keeping a record of what was said and agreed upon. E-mails are nonintrusive and can be checked at the leisure of the recipient, but it is important that both parents agree to respond in a timely manner.
Texting can be useful to communicate quick, important information (such as notifying the other parent that you are on your way to pick up your child), but texting can also present problems. Due to technology failures or a dead phone battery, texts may not go through, may not be read, may be delivered late, etc. Texts are also not a reliable record of exchanged information.
Phone calls may be appropriate at times when information is needed quickly, so long as both parents are able to communicate over the phone without conflict.
Communicating to Your Kids
An equally important aspect of co-parenting is the way you talk to your kids about the other parent. As mentioned earlier, it is in the best interest of the child to develop a healthy relationship with both parents. This will be difficult if one or both parents are constantly degrading and talking ill of the other parent. Do your best to keep your child out of the middle of your relationship struggle.
If your inability to communicate with your ex is affecting your children, seek the guidance of your attorney for resources that can help you in preparing to co-parent.