It is no secret that parties who are divorcing typically have difficulty communicating with each other. That being said, sometimes a divorcing spouse or parent will flat-out refuses to communicate at all. This is particularly worrisome when there are minor children involved, as the parents will still be forced to communicate for the foreseeable future about issues relative to their minor children. Even parents who do not communicate well or have sole allocation of parental responsibilities, divorced parents have to communicate with each other at times throughout the course of raising their children. There is simply no avoiding it. Thankfully, when minor children are involved, there are several options parties may utilize to try and improve communication with the other parent.
When a Divorcing Spouse Refuses to Communicate
Parents who are divorcing will always have things that need to be communicated to one another, and when they are bad communicators, it can get ugly. In our experience Chicago divorce attorneys, we’ve found there are some helpful strategies that can improve the communication process now and in the future.
Use a Parenting App
One way to try and streamline communication between parents is to use a parenting application (“app”), such as Our Family Wizard or Talking Parents. These applications are a place where the parents can send each other messages and it allows the sender to see, at a minimum, when the message was read, if there was a reply, or sometimes, even if someone logged into the application but didn’t open the message.
Creates a Certified Record of All Conversations
More importantly, these applications can create a certified record of all of the conversations within a certain time frame for purposes of utilizing same in court. This is much cleaner and simpler than having to go through text messages or emails. Additionally, depending upon which program the parties use, the application may have a “tone monitor” which tells the drafter if the message has a green light (OK to send), a yellow light (may want to rephrase/could be perceived badly) or a red light (do not send) to allow them to know if the message they are sending should be well received. These applications sometimes have calendars as well as expense trackers and places where invoices and receipts can be uploaded to allow for reimbursements. Further, the applications allow third parties to access the conversations and portals if you approve them, so your attorney or your child’s Guardian Ad Litem or Child Representative can log in and review items that you want them to see. Additionally, having these “watching eyes” a lot of times encourages people to communicate better and more positively than simple text messages and emails.
Appoint a Co-Parenting Coach or Co-Parenting Therapist
There is also the possibility of using a co-parenting coach or a co-parenting therapist to assist with communication issues. These folks provide a live service and meet with both parties jointly to discuss communication issues. The therapist or coach will provide feedback about how they can modify their communication to make it work. Having this third-party neutral who focuses on improving the parties’ communication and improving their co-parenting can be a huge help to parents who want to communicate better but have no idea how to do that. This is not couples counseling or therapy. Instead, this third party works with the parents solely to improve their communication and coparenting relationship to make the situation more functional for the family.
Attorney Assisted Mediation
Attorney-assisted mediation is another option for divorcing or separating couples with trouble communicating. Generally, parties participate in regular mediation through the courts in Illinois; however, their lawyers are not present. Some mediators might be able to engage in a mediation session while keeping parties in separate rooms so they don’t communicate at all, but this doesn’t help them going forward. Having attorneys present for mediation is often a good way to allow the parties to stay in the same room with a mediator but still feel that they have someone advocating for them, especially if they are unlikely to advocate for themselves in a mediation-type environment. This can get the parties talking, albeit through their attorneys, but they are present, and it can open the lines of communication.
Good Communication Makes Better Co-Parents
Communication may have been a reason the marriage deteriorated, but it is an important skill required for parties to coexist effectively, especially when minor children are involved. Working on communication after a divorce and learning to function with each other in a different capacity as co-parents will make all of the difference to you and your family now and in the future.