Posted by The Family Law Company on 21st December 2011

Once yourself and a partner have decided to separate communicating with each other can be difficult and can in some cases tend to deteriorate to non-existent or escalate to a physical and verbal attack.

It is always best for your children if you can continue communicating with each other. Similarly it can also ensure that legal costs are kept to a minimum if communication between you is good.

There are ten golden rules in communicating with each other after you separate:

1. Always remember that your children need you to do this for them

How you manage your communication will directly affect their future. How they trust and deal with not only the two of you but also other people.

2. Find the right time and place or method of communication

Sometimes it is inconvenient to talk when something has come up in which case it would be much better to agree a later time when both of you can talk matters through privately. In this modern age emails and text messaging may be a good form of communication. However, remember with emails and text messages that you cannot see the other person’s body language and therefore emails and text messages are notorious for being interpreted in the wrong way. Therefore be careful when you are drafting emails and text messages so that you come across in the manner that you wish to.

3. Discuss issues as quickly as possible after they have come up

It is far better to air problems straight away than let them fester and grow. If there is a problem then deal with it at the first available opportunity.

4. Be as factual as you can

If either of you have received a report from someone else whether the children or other people simply tell the other person exactly what you have heard and from whom. This will enable the other person to either put the first persons mind at rest immediately or enable them to make enquiries of their own before responding.

5. Don’t attack the other

It is really important that you each see the other as working together in the best interests of your children. Anyone who feels under criticism will naturally respond defensively. Your children need the two of you to be able to sort things out in an adult and responsible manner.

6. Be honest, polite and respectful to the other

This is the flip side of the above. It is not just a question of what to avoid, it is the positive way you can speak with each other both in tone and in the words used.

7. Don’t always assume the worst

What you have heard may not be true, may be an exaggeration or a distortion of the truth. If you hear something worrying then hold off believing it until the other person knows what is being suggested and can fully respond. In other words the basic assumption should be based on the knowledge that neither of you will place the children at risk and that you trust each other as parents.

8. Educate the people around you

We all have families and friends who want the best for us. Sometimes they believe that this means building us up and knocking the other person down. It is important that those surrounding you understand that you do have a continuing need to work in partnership with the other person and support each other for the sake of the children.

9. Remind yourself of the above before speaking with each other

Already have this to hand by the phone. Practice being considerate to each other. Give each other permission to remind each other about this and be courageous enough to apologise when you get it wrong.

10. Either or both of you may make mistakes but don’t give up if you do

Think about your role in whatever went wrong and how you could have approached matters or responded in a different way.

By working cooperatively together and communicating well the separation process will be smoother for yourself and in particular for the children.

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