Improving Communications With an Ex

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Couple Having Arguement At Home

When you are going through a painful divorce or custody fight with an ex, it can seem like even the smallest issues become major complications. Heated arguments can develop in a moment and over things that ought to be very simple. Even otherwise amicable relationships can begin to deteriorate, leading to a lot of unnecessary calls to the lawyer or trips to the courthouse. There is a way to avoid a lot of these contentious disputes and save time, money, and headaches. The trick is planning your communications in advance.


Why Communication is So Challenging in a Family Law Case


The Gottman Institute has long been a leading center for research on human interaction and communication, especially for families going through divorces. Dr. Gottman suggests that there are so-called “Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse” that can predict the end of a relationship. According to Gottman’s theory, these four characteristics or behaviors are:


  • Criticism
  • Contempt
  • Defensiveness
  • Stonewalling


When you and your ex are going through a divorce or you are fighting over custody of a child, these four communication problems are almost inevitable. Simple tasks such as meeting to drop off a child after visitation can become highly emotional moments that can feel almost akin to a battle. When you see your ex as an opponent, battling over a prize (e.g. your child), conflict and fighting is inevitable. So, what can you do?


Three Useful Methods of Improving Communications


Here are just three possible ways to improve the quality and type of communications with your ex:


Alternative Mediums of Communication


Sometimes the problem is not communication; it is verbal communication. If you find that it is difficult to keep the conversation civil, or you wish there was a record of the awful things your ex is doing, then you may just want to consider using technology to bridge the communication divide. Apps like Our Family Wizard allow divorced couples to communicate, plan visitation, reschedule school events, and more. In addition to reducing everything to writing, it also creates a record so it keeps people honest and can be a powerful tool in court if one party is violating arrangements.


Huffington Post also provides an excellent list of joint-parenting apps that may be helpful, depending on your situation.


Deliberate Communications


Being deliberate just means thinking about what you wish to accomplish. While you are on your way to pick up a child after a long weekend of visitation with an ex, you should take the time to think about what you want to achieve during your interaction. Remind yourself that the goal is for your child to enjoy time with both parents, to grow up healthy and well-adjusted, and to feel loved. If you center your emotions and focus on those goals, you may find it easier to ignore minor frustrations like when your ex shows up 15 minutes late. If you have planned your communications in advance, then you are less likely to react in the moment.


Using an Intermediary


If your communications have truly broken down to the point at which every interaction leads to aggressive and erratic arguments, then it may be worth discussing your situation with an attorney. Sometimes an intermediary such as a trained Parenting Coordinator can be used in order to mediate disputes and create a smoother exchange. An intermediary can schedule visitation meetings, school events, and other difficult conversations. While obviously this should not be a permanent or long-term solution, it may be helpful for getting through a particularly rough patch.  Experienced divorce attorneys tend to work often with secondary resources such as these and can make recommendations for your particular circumstances.


Talk to a Birmingham Divorce Attorney


If you are going through a bitter and challenging divorce or custody dispute, do not let harsh words and difficult communications steal your happiness. Speak with an attorney who understands both the legal and the human aspects of family law. The more you understand about the process, the better you can cope with the challenges to come. Call Five Points Law Group to speak with an attorney today.

Heather Fann
Heather Fann
Heather's practice seeks to preserve the dignity of clients through healthy paths for their changing families, employing both modern and traditional means of resolution including collaborative practice and methods such as use of Parenting Coordinators, as well as mediation, though she stands ready to litigate where necessary.

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