Can’t we All Just Get Along?

By: Candace M. Williams

Family Law Department, Coleman, Chambers, Rogers & Williams, LLP

Divorced couples often ask themselves, “Can’t we all just get along?” Attorneys, judges, and mediators often share the same sentiment when dealing with the dynamics of divorced couples.  As a divorced parent, and divorce attorney, these words have incredible value in the grand scheme of things as it relates to your children. Do you receive the emails from a former spouse or father or mother of your child constantly complaining about you as a parent? Do these texts or emails from former spouses wake you in the middle of the night or interrupt your weekends? Welcome to what is becoming common place in the divorce arena.  Hearing these cries from clients over the years has become a normal occurrence in the practice of Family Law.

At Coleman, Chambers, Rogers & Williams, LLP, we teach clients how to deal with conflict. There are good ways and bad ways to communicate with the other parent.  In a perfect world, divorced parents should be able to communicate with each other in a healthy way without emotion, name calling, or texting/emailing each other to excess. Parents who enter this vicious cycle of communication do not realize the long-term harm to their children. Your children have eyes, and ears often begin to pick up on the constant hostility between their parents. Do you text the other parent incessantly complaining when he or she has the child (or children)?  Why not spend time with your child?If the issue is important, sit on it for at least twenty four (24) hours, then correspond with the other parent in a calm and civil manner.Parents who text or email each other 30 to 40 times a day quibbling about insignificant topics frustrates many judges.It is difficult from the family law attorney’s perspective to condense hundred of texts or emails into a version for use in Court. Often, texts and emails have to be read together, meaning you cannot reduce the number of communications for trial. This can end of costing you money in a subsequent hearing.

Every issue does not warrant a text, email or phone call.  If you are a parent exhibiting these patterns, many attorneys will argue that you have too much time on your hands.Others attorneys might assert that you want to constantly fight versus not spending quality time with the children, especially if you are bombarding the other parent with texts or emails during your parenting time. “Think before you speak is the first golden rule.” Is the issue worth the text or email? If so, can it wait?Consider waiting until you do not have your children with you, and you have time to give the matter thought.

Long term, divorced parents who communicate effectively about the children tend to have successful children. There is very little conflict, short concise communications, and the children are shielded from these adult conversations. If the divorced parents do a good job communicating with each other, your children benefit long term. Children do not need to be exposed to conflicts amongst parents, step parents, girlfriends, boyfriends, etc.Children need to be children, not future litigants.

We see many conflicts arise post divorce or at the end of a relationship when parents remarry, or bring a new partner into the equation. This is a transition parents should expect following the end of a marriage or relationship. Introduction of a new partner to the children is a significant event.If you have been dating a person for a period of time and believe moving to the next step with introduction to the children is coming, then good communication by the parents is crucial. Communication geared to disrespect or offend the other parent accomplishes nothing.Be mindful that these communications can end up in a courtroom one day. Communication with divorced parents is similar to a fundamental rule of boxing: “Keep it clean.”  Be respectful when you communicate with the other parent, and this advice will serve you well going forward.

If you would like a consultation with one of our Family Lawyers at Coleman, Chambers, & Rogers, LLP, please contact us at 770-534-3770.