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How to Communicate with Your Ex: The Importance of Tone During Your Family Law Matter

Mrp 3063

The experience of separation is a stressful one, it makes us do all kinds of wacky things. I see so often two people who could once talk about anything and, in the blink of an eye (and understandably), their communication becomes either combative, overly formal, a mixture of both or there’s no communication at all. I’ve put my mind to writing a few tips to help you communicate with your ex, and still feel safe in your family law matters, read on!

Leave the Lawyering to the Lawyers

It must be a really uneasy feeling to know that you are now on the ‘other side’ to your former partner.

I’ve seen unintended consequences come from two partners feeling like they need to communicate in an overly-formal way, almost replicating what they think a lawyer will communicate like. In these scenarios, you will see both parties becoming more and more fearful, and fear brings defensiveness.

At first you may have set out to communicate in a strong, smart and protective way (maybe you feel like anything you write will be used against you in future!), but the tone we use sets the tone of everything else. If you are behaving combatively, you might cause the fight you never intended to.

Kind & Calm, Be Yourself

It must be a really uneasy feeling to know that you are now on the ‘other side’ to your former partner.

I’ve seen unintended consequences come from two partners feeling like they need to communicate in an overly-formal way, almost replicating what they think a lawyer will communicate like. In these scenarios, you will see both parties becoming more and more fearful, and fear brings defensiveness.

At first you may have set out to communicate in a strong, smart and protective way (maybe you feel like anything you write will be used against you in future!), but the tone we use sets the tone of everything else. If you are behaving combatively, you might cause the fight you never intended to.

In it for the Long-Haul

My sign off is going to be this- if you share children with your ex, you will be communicating in some way or another for a really long time yet. Co-parenting is a long-haul endeavour and a communication breakdown now could linger for a long time. If your goal is to have smooth changeovers and for celebrations for your kids in the future to remain celebratory (which should be your goal!), then aggressive or overly antagonistic and formal communication now is not your best way to start.

There is no doubt that communicating with your ex in the right way is going to at times feel unideal. The support of your lawyer, and maybe even a communication coach (perhaps like a counsellor), will set you in good stead for better outcomes in your family law matter and even better outcomes in your co-parenting relationship. It really is all worth it.

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