Caution:  This page contains ONLY GENERAL LEGAL INFORMATION. 
It is NOT LEGAL ADVICE nor a replacement for talking to a lawyer
and getting legal advice about your case.    
The law can be complicated and the details of a case can be even more complicated! 
There are exceptions for every rule. 

 

What you do not know can harm you.  Do not rely on general legal information.

AT YOUR OWN RISK.

COMMUNICATIONS BETWEEN PARENTS

If you have a child, you will have to work with the other parent, to some degree, until the child is an adult and, quite likely beyond this.  You should:

  1. take the long view

  2. make things better for your child (including less conflict)

  3. make things easier for yourself (including less conflict)

By your behavior, you teach your children how to parent and how to be in a relationship.  Children see and hear more than we think.  You cannot control the behavior of the other parent, but you can control your behavior.

 

You have a moral and legal obligation to make all decisions affecting children in their best interest (giving them priority over yourself).  This applies to what you do and how you do it.

 

It is essential that you protect your children from unhealthy conflict with the other parent.  Who is right is less important to children. 

Do NOT fall into the following all to common destructive behavior:

  • Never make negative comments about the other parent, their family or friends within the hearing of the child or allow others to do so.

  • Never discuss issues with the other parent in the hearing of the child (unless you need to involve the child and do it in a health and productive way).

  • Do not use the child to send message to or get information from the other parent (do not sent notes or support payment via the child).

Follow the following guidelines:

  • Always be “professional” and focused on results and improving the ability to work with the other parent.

  • Always be polite.  (Politeness is not about them, but about you.)

  • Keep your focus on the child.

  • Remember the priorities.  Parent is a priority.  Maintaining a co-parent relationship is a priority.  If necessary, others can make decisions about money.

  • Be supportive (not critical) of the other parent.  Be helpful.

  • Deal with hostility in a calm, child-focus way.  Know when to keep quiet.  Arguments rarely help and often hurt.

  • Be practical.  Focus on what the other parent can be persuaded to do, not on what you think she/he should do.

  • Deal with what you can deal with.  Ask your lawyer about how to deal with serious and controversial issues or have the lawyer deal with financial issues, as much as possible.

  • If you are upset, pause your message.  Hold off on sending that test message.  Let the draft email sit overnight.  Consider have someone you trust read it over.  Inappropriate communications can be damaging if a judge has to review it -- the problem can be more about about how you say things, than what your are trying to say.

  • If saying something is not going to help, then you should probably not say it.

  • Take advice only from people who are focused on the needs of the child and who help keep you calm and productive.

  • Confirm agreements by email or in other written communications.

Unless there is a court order or formal agreement otherwise or risk factors:

  • You should be sharing information about the child with the other parent: school, homework, activities, routines, health, etc.  Email them communications from the school.  If you cannot attend school events or medical appointments together, try to help with separate meetings.  

  • Keep the other parent advised of the contact information for the child's school/teachers, doctors/dentists, and others involved in their care.

Do your part, even if the other parent does not ask.

If there is a lot of conflict, you may want to be careful about when and how you have discussions.  You may want to avoid in-person talks about issues.  If you cannot communicate in an appropriate way, the consider using a third-person to communicate through.

Consider using a service that helps separated parents communicate, such as OurFamilyWizard.com.

There is counselling available for separated parents to help them cooperate better in the interest of the child and to deal with parenting problems. 

 

There are also specialist that can help negotiate parenting plans and to adjust them as needed.

Keep a diary or notes about any important issues.  This can be very helpful if you need to get the courts involved.