What Is The Best Way For Divorced Parents To Communicate With Their Ex?

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The best way to communicate with your ex is to have an agreed strategy for all communication. You will always be in each other’s lives because you have children together. It is important to find a way to work together as parents for the benefit of the children.

How easy this agreed upon strategy is to create and maintain will vary depending on the relationship you have with your ex. In my experience as a divorce consultant, whilst the parenting relationship can be challenging during the divorce and shortly afterwards, time can help calm things down and many parents manage to build a good working relationship by some point after their divorce.

During the divorce process itself, it helps to keep communication about the children separate to communication about the divorce. After the divorce, most communication is likely to be focused on the children, the parenting arrangements and responsibilities.



Here are my suggestions on the most effective way to approach communication with your ex:
 

1. Get clear with yourself beforehand on what the purpose is for the communication. For example,

  • Are you telling them something?
  • Are you asking them something?
  • Are you needing to discuss something to reach an agreement?

Getting clear in advance can help you plan how to say what you want to say and also to keep your focus on the reason for the communication.

2. Remember that your ex may have their own thoughts and ideas on the subject, so

  • Be clear and concise
  • Be constructive and positive
  • Always be respectful
  • Be considerate 
  • Listen to their point of view

Remember you need to work together as a parenting team for your children. You may not always see eye to eye on things but will need to find a working solution that you both feel comfortable with. Be willing to compromise and remember it is not a competition.

3. Set yourself up for successful communication.

When you are planning your communication, keep your focus on what the best outcome will be from the communication. What is it you what to achieve? Keep this positive focus in mind. This will help you be clear and calm about what you say.

4. Always put the children first

This is about working together successfully with the children’s other parent for the benefit of your children. This is not about your personal relationship with your ex. Put aside your personal feelings towards your ex as your ex-partner. Focus on the children and what they need from their parents. Make child-focused decisions based on what is in their best interests rather than what you would prefer for yourself.

How to choose the best method of communication

With the benefit of technology, you have numerous different forms of communication to choose from. I recommend agreement is reached on the preferred method for the communication between you and your ex. This will ensure you both know how the other will be getting in touch. Being prepared for the communication helps. The agreed method used for the communication might depend on:

  • How good your relationship is with your ex
  • The purpose of the communication
  • What you agree is the most appropriate and comfortable for both of you, e.g., if you do not like video don’t agree to video calls.

What to consider when reaching agreement on your method of communication.

Here are my thoughts on the different methods of communication:

Phone

Are you both good communicators on the phone?

Are you both good at getting your point across clearly and without interrupting the other?

Decide when (day and time) you will be getting in touch so each of you is prepared for the call. I encourage my clients who decide to use phone communication, to have an agreement on the day and time for a weekly call. I then recommend they follow up with an email/text confirming what has been agreed (as a written record)

Face Time video

Make sure you are happy with using video to talk to your ex. If seeing them face to face is uncomfortable for you, don’t agree to it. However, video calls can work well for the children’s communication with their other parent. They get to talk to their other parent face to face and get to show them pictures/toys/school projects etc. so the other parent can still feel involved in the children’s lives when they are not physically with them.

Texting

This is quick and easy but please be careful. This is only appropriate for easy, non-contentious parenting issues Try to avoid sending long texts which need a lot of thinking before replying. I recommend using email instead for those. Clients have told me how difficult it can be to keep track of messages and replies in a long stream of texts.

There is then a risk of missing something important and not replying by accident. I also recommend avoiding sending a text in anger and/or in the heat of the moment. Check your draft message before sending to ensure you are happy with what you have said and how you have said it.

Through a third party(e.g. your lawyer)

For those parents unable to communicate constructively between themselves, then using a third party such as solicitors might become necessary to enable the parenting arrangements to move forward. This is more common during the divorce process itself rather than after the divorce. My advice is to be careful of your legal costs.

Using your solicitors as your voice piece could get very expensive. They cannot force your ex to agree with your position, they can only set out your wishes. Only use solicitors if you feel you have no other choice. An alternative option could be Family Mediation, which can be used before, during or after the divorce process to help reach agreement over child issues.

Through social media

I do not recommend using social media to communicate with your ex. I encourage my clients to avoid following or engaging with their ex on social media. You live separate lives now and need to respect each other’s space. There are much better options available.

Parenting Apps

There are an increasing number of parenting apps now available to help divorced parents who struggle to communicate constructively. The family courts also encourage the use of parenting apps and have the authority to court order the divorced parents to use a particular app such as Our Family Wizard. (Our Family Wizard | The Best Co-Parenting app). The app provides lots of useful functions to enable communication between the parents to be more constructive and easier to manage. Another option is Amicable Co-Parenting app. (The amicable co-parenting app).

Email

Email is good for non-urgent issues and communication that requires more detail and explanation in the message. You can set out clearly your thoughts on something (without being interrupted by our ex) and it is a written record of what has been discussed. It also helps avoid hasty replies, slowing down the rush to respond quickly and in the moment.

You can draft a message and sleep on it before sending it, to ensure you are happy with what you are saying and how you have said it. I am particularly keen for my clients to use email for setting out thoughts on issues such as parenting plans, holidays dates etc.

Of course, You do not have to just choose one method of communication. You might agree to vary it depending on the purpose and urgency of the communication.

In summary

The best approach for divorced parents to communicate with their ex is to have an agreed upon strategy for the communication. This involves you reaching an agreement on the method of communication – phone/text/email. It also helps to have some structure and routine in place around specific days and times you will be in communication (particularly important where there are young children).

Then, take a considered approach to the communication itself. Follow my tips set out above to set yourself up for a successful outcome for your communication. Remember to be respectful, clear on the purpose of your communication, open to listen and understand other perspectives and always prioritise what is in the best interests of the children.

I work with many clients to help them establish an effective communication strategy with the ex. It benefits not only the parents but most importantly the children. Get in touch to find out more information about how I could help you with your situation.

Rhiannon Ford is a divorce consultant and coach with over 20 years’ experience working with clients going through divorce and separation. She provides specialist support and guidance before, during and after the divorce process, saving your clients time, money and stress. Find out more about her services here - www.rhiannonford.co.uk.

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