- Written by Kevin Hickey
It’s a fact, you and your ex simply can’t communicate without anything short of World War III, however, the two of you have one thing that keeps the two of you bound together – your children. Now that you’ve come to the realization that traditional co-parenting isn’t going to be an option, how are you supposed to successfully parent your children to keep them out of the crosshairs of your emotional breakup? The best thing you can do is have as little contact as possible, while that may seem impossible while raising children, it can be done and is highly recommended in high-conflict situations.
- All communication must be in writing. You choose the preferred method, whether it be text, email, snail mail, an app, whatever, it simply must be documented and in writing. The two of you have tried speaking and it doesn’t work out well and is not productive, so don’t do it unless it is a true emergency.
- Written communication needs to be short and to the point while adequately covering the important details. Stick to the facts and leave it at that.
- Child custody exchanges should take place in a public place such as a shopping center parking lot or anywhere in plain sight. This works twofold as it tends to keep couples on their best behaviors to avoid people overhearing them and if things do get out of hand, there are witnesses.
- Finally, parallel parenting is your best option. I wrote a blog about this last week; basically, it is a parenting style used by parents who want to avoid contact with one another by limiting their interactions. This parenting technique allows both parents to be involved in their children’s lives without the added stress of being involved with one another. It also allows parents to detach from one another and avoid engaging in discussion as it minimizes contact and limits the need for discussion on day-to-day issues.
- Avoid at all costs any deviation from the custody schedule. It’s understandable that changes do happen, especially when the kids get older and have extracurricular activities and their own friend groups. If a change is unavoidable, give the parent losing the time written communication explaining why.
- When agreeing on your child custody and settlement agreement, make sure you have an attorney that will watch for broad language such as “reasonable visitation” and clauses that require parents to regularly communicate. The agreement must be spelled out in detail, so everyone is on the same page and there is no room for misinterpretation.
- Never, never use the children as your personal messenger to communicate to the other parent on your behalf. This is not only unfair to your children to put them in the middle of your poor communication, but also a great way for miscommunication.
Low contact strategies will not only be beneficial to your children in high conflict situations but it's better for your overall physical health and well-being. It is also a good legal decision as it can prevent you from making mistakes that can quickly result in going back to court.
Contact Hickey and Hull Law Partners for all your co-parenting needs. We will use our extensive knowledge and experience to help you determine the best strategy for you. The River Valley office number is 479.434.2414 and the Northwest Arkansas office number is 479.802.6560.