3 Tips to Establishing Better Communication
Statistics show that children whose parents have shared custody end up in a better place in many different metrics than children where only one parent has custody. In order for shared legal custody to work, the parents will need to learn how to talk to each other to facilitate this. Here are some tips for establishing beneficial co-parenting communication skills.
Take Yourself Out of the Picture
Everyone who has dealt with a custody issue knows that the best interests of the children are the most important factor. Courts will judge custody cases by this standard, and you will likely hear it many times if your custody case is ever contested.
When dealing with the other parent, many parents do not want to lose face or sacrifice their pride when having a conversation. They fall into the trap of looking at every dealing with the other parent as a contest of wills and feel like they must get the best of every interaction.
When you have shared custody, you must remove yourself from the equation. Sometimes, you must compromise when communicating with a co-parent, and it is not losing face at all. Instead, it is putting the children’s best interests first. In fact, the children who do the best in shared custody situations are the ones where the parents can speak to each other.
Put Hurt Feelings Aside
The most important thing to remember when communicating with the other parent is that the divorce is either over or will be over at some point in the future. What caused the marriage or relationship to break down has nothing to do with the kids. Therefore, you should bury the past, at least when it comes to communicating with the other parent.
Holding on to hurt feelings when speaking with the other parent will only serve to prolong the conflict. Eventually, you will start to see psychological impacts on the children, including behavioral issues and lower performance in school.
Whatever is bothering you, it is best for the children to let it go insofar as it relates to communication with the other parent. The children may be privy to your communication with the other parent and do not need to be exposed to a level of bitterness. Carrying the past into the present can only create a tense situation that permeates the entire family. There is a time to deal with the hurt feelings that you may have, but it should not happen when you are discussing the children or arrangements relating to them with the other parent.
Review What You Are Going to Say
Sometimes, it is best to make communication a little less spontaneous and a little more planned. When you talk on the phone and text, there is more of a propensity to say whatever comes to mind first, and that can be harmful to a relationship.
While you are establishing the proper communication skills, it may be best to speak over email. The fact that it is in writing gives you an incentive to take the time to say things properly. Make sure that you review what you have said before you hit the send button because you cannot take it back.
In some cases, you may need a system such as Our Family Wizard that helps parents deal with each other and exists to improve relationships when there is shared custody. Communications that are more formal and in writing give each party an impetus to avoid using charged and emotional language. Otherwise, a judge could see a pattern of hostile conduct and possibly take action against the parent who is a persistent offender.
Choosing words carefully, whether it is in person or in writing, can keep things civil and help the relationship. When in doubt, stop and think before saying anything.
The attorneys at Morgenstern & Rochester can help parents put into place a custody arrangement that furthers constructive communication. Call our office in Cherry Hill today at (856) 489-6200 to find out how we can help you.