The Art of Communication in Divorce: How to Successfully Co-Parent with your Ex-Spouse

While divorce is certainly never easy, adding children to the mix can add incredible stress and permanent change to your life when dealing with child responsibilities before and after a divorce. Most importantly, communication structures tend to break down after a divorce as couples try to ignore one another in their new phase of life. With emotions running high and stressors piling up, couples’ communication breaks down in the heat of divorce and can lead to destructive tendencies such as name-calling, withholding information, and further abuse that can permanently impact your children’s lives.

Therefore, whether or not you had an incredible and communicative marriage before the divorce, it is important to revisit some staples of communication skills that can lead to greater balance and resolved differences when it comes to child custody and responsibility before and after divorce. To inspire more productive communication before and after a divorce, Kimberly Schultz Law recommends these few practices that can encourage a smooth divorce process and easier co-parenting.

Focus on discussing the kids.

Although marriage once inspired trust and open communication, after a divorce couple may shy away from discussing one another’s personal lives in the light of their transition to singlehood or new relationships. However, in order to successfully co-parent your children, it is important to continue a communicative relationship to discuss your children’s needs, finances, and lives, especially in their childhood years.

Set boundaries.

One way to create a good relationship with your former spouse is to set strict boundaries regarding how often you want to communicate and when, as well as about what. You can establish that you want to keep communication via email or phone calls, or even monthly meetups or more frequent check-ins. By creating firm boundaries at the onset of your new relationships as co-parents, each parent is aware of their expectations in communication and can manage their schedules.

Stay away from hostility and blame.

Now that the marriage is over, consider your relationship like a business partnership as you strive to manage your children’s lives before their adulthood. Although frequent communication for divorced couples can leave a door open to hostility and arguments, remember to consider your tone when bringing up issues you have with any parenting or financial issues and stay away from blame and starting arguments.

Stay focused on the issue at hand.

The very nature of divorce can lead couples to be tempted to fight and rehash old arguments just for the sake of fighting. When these issues come up, it is important to focus on the task at hand and directly communicate only about the pressing issues that affect the divorced relationship and children and refrain from arguing about other issues.

Set an example for your children.

While it may cause frustration and temptation to hash out fights and disregard healthy communication with your ex-spouse after a divorce, you must accept that you have to continue working together and striving to have productive discussions in order to set a good example of communication and teamwork to your children. It is natural to have high emotional responses to any communication as a divorced couple, but with more understanding and by focusing on the goal at hand, couples can overcome their differences to provide a healthy and balanced relationship to each other for their children and the future of their parenting responsibilities.