Generally, you should always communicate with the other parent. Unless there are orders of protection saying not to communicate with the other parent, or one finds interactions with the other parent to be hostile or threatening, it’s always wisest to communicate with the other parent. Many settlements I’ve participated in end up with some level of joint custody. Settlements that contain joint custody are the growing trend in custody law. Joint custody includes the responsibility to have frequent discussions with the other parent. You are essentially going to co-parent your child or children until they are at least 18, but perhaps further. Especially with child support, communication is key. It’s also best to consult a lawyer on what is appropriate to share with the other parent – for example, you could be recorded by the other parent on the phone. One should consider not mentioning to the other parent that time you thought pink elephants were flying by your window. While this is a silly example, it should be evident this is probably not the information you want to be recorded saying on tape. Anything you say to your partner can be spun and used against you. There are various details you don’t want to disclose with the other parents, especially when it comes to conversations about the settlement. You should qualify settlement discussions by pausing and running everything by an attorney. However, sometimes there are cases where domestic violence, hostility, and other threats get in the way – that’s where you may wish to avoid handling these discussions personally.
There are communication facilitation programs that are recommended by attorneys and the courts. Among them are, Our Family Wizard, Talking Parents, and Two Houses. Each of these programs better facilitate communication between parents that have trouble communicating with each other. They organize contacts so you can have alternative communication chains for different topics. For example, you can have one that only discuss the child’s soccer practices and games. You have another communication chain that only discusses the child’s medical issues. Another communication chain might only concerns pickups and drop-offs and arranging for access time. Yet another may only discuss the child’s extra-curricular activity. This way, you won’t have garbled communications if you must come back to court on a particular issue. Understanding the context of cases can become confusing if the Judge and the attorneys are looking at long email or text chains. Text chains tend to be particularly challenging for attorneys and Judges to go through.
What Is Crucial to Be Mindful Of When Communicating With My Child’s Other Parent In A Contested Custody Case?
It’s best to focus on the particular issues at hand rather than the communication style or the history of conflict you have with the other parent. Bringing up events of the past is marching down the wrong road. Instead, you want to stay as objective as possible. With any relationship, especially where parties are going through a contested custody situation, there is bitterness, hurt feelings, and a history that is not easily forgotten. When parties communicate, they tend to hold grudges and use details from the past in current arguments.
If this happens and the other parent is bringing up details from your history, do not try to address it or confront them. If you do so, you are just going to have arguments at that point which will delay solving the issue. An experienced attorney would advise to stick to the point and not engage in argumentation.
There are many cases where the other parent is overbearing or perhaps narcissistic. They may even have diagnosable psychological disorders that get in the way of effective co-parenting and communication. I advise my clients to remain as objective as possible and to manage boundaries. For example, if the other parent sends 5, 6, 10 emails a day, don’t feel obligated to respond to each one. If it makes sense to respond, do so, but never under the assumption that you are obligated to email back. Instead, prioritize deciphering the sum and substance of the emails.
Some people run into the issue of not having time to read 10 emails a day if the other parent is emailing. If you don’t feel like reading them, especially at the end of a long workday, get a Dictaphone app on your iPhone or Android device to turn those texts into audio. You can sit and listen to them on the commercial break of your favorite show. Listening to emails like this can also remove some of the hostility in communicating with an aggressive parent.
For more information on Communicating with Ex-Spouse in A Contested Custody Situation, an initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (914) 362-3080 today.