Saying goodbye to your spouse is painful, no matter your position on whether the marriage should have continued. The storm that ensues during the divorce creates emotional highs and lows in both parties creating an environment that is difficult to navigate. The requirements of negotiating child custody agreements, parenting plans, relocating into a new residence, living on one budget all contributes to the toxic environment that develops post separation or divorce. Either party may be feeling a multitude of emotions including: fear, anger, sadness and grief. It is important to focus on your mental health immediately.
To navigate through the storm you need to deal with your emotions and mental health. Take a minute to breath. Don’t act on impulses and consult with your attorney or therapist prior to sending a communication to your wife or husband. When it comes to communicating with people when a divorce or separation begins remember less is more.
People perceive your words in the manner they view the world. Perception is reality. If you are trying to communicate an idea, thought, or opinion to a person feeling angry, hostile, sad, or scared they may not perceive a communication in the same light as you do, when you are sending this well intentioned and thought out communication.
When it comes to communicating remember that you will need some time to adjust to this new normal. The pain of dealing with this change will at times be exhausting to everyone involved in the break-up of the relationship. This includes your kids, spouse, and friends. When communicating with anyone within the circle of your former relationship remember to avoid communicating with them about the circumstances or your divorce or separation. An additional party distorts the initial meaning of the communication further than directly speaking to your ex. Neither communication may be perfect, but combined it may damage the relationship even further.
Your children will be looking to you for comfort, compassion and understanding during this time of uncertainty. Remember to provide your children with the reassurance that everything will be ok.
Allow your children to express their feelings, and remember they are entitled to be hurt, angry and sad as well. Effort should be exhausted to avoid sharing with your children the full range of the emotions you are experiencing. It is not appropriate to communicate with your child your anger, and disappointment with their mother or father. Once you are not around your children then you can allow yourself to feel the emotions that come with your divorce.
If the two of you are effectively communicating then you likely would not be in the middle of a divorce, and once the divorce or separation begins this will likely break the lines of communication between the two of you even further. However, being able to communicate with the other parent to your children is important for both you and your children. What should you do in case of a high conflict separation or divorce?
Here are some strategies for co-parenting in less than ideal co-parenting relationships:
Do not use your children as a tool for revenge. It is normal to feel anger do to personal relationship with your spouse being gone. The anger directed at the other parent is felt by the child and manifests itself as denial of access to the other parent, or open hostility. To deal with this situation simply avoid the engaging in the hostility. It is easier said than done to not engage with an openly hostile person, but better to deal with the issue in court, through a guardian ad litem or therapist.
Avoid situations that cause conflict, and don’t put yourself in a position of weakness. If drop off or pick up changes are causing a conflict then just stick to the schedule in the order. If changing the schedule in anyway causes conflict then go back to the order of the court. If the other parent is using schedule changes to create conflict then do not make the requests, nor engage the other parent in such deviations. Arrive on time, and do not engage in any verbal, or written argument with the other parent.
Never communicate through the children. It is difficult to communicate with the other parent for a variety of reasons including pain, anger and sadness. It may be the most difficult situation to deal with after the break up, or divorce. Children should never be used to convey messages. This should not be done by either parent. As much as you don’t want to engage in a conversation that will lead to conflict. Do not place your child in this situation. In high conflict child custody situations sometimes parents may have to use parallel parenting as opposed to co-parenting.
In high conflict divorces or child custody situations a third party may be required to create a buffer to facilitate communication. If communication is impossible a parenting facilitator or family member may be required to facilitate healthy communication. Parenting facilitator’s should be used rarely. There is a considerable cost associated with parenting facilitators that can create an undue burden on the parents.
The overall theme with high conflict divorces and child custody situations is to reduce direct communication with the other parent. The communication should be reduced to situations where there is a problem with the children. The written parenting plan enclosed in the court’s order should deal with the details of possession, access and visitation with the children. In high conflict divorces and child custody situations the court generally will allow for a communication app that will track the communication in a format that can be easily accessed by a parenting facilitator or a judge. These apps can be used to exchange information about medical events, and extracurricular activities of the children.
If you have questions about child custody in Williamson County, call the Round Rock Law Office of Clifford Swayze at 512-920-5080. Clifford Swayze is committed to his clients and advocating for their well-being. In addition, to helping clients with divorce and family law matters, Clifford Swayze is an experienced and skilled child custody lawyer practicing in the following communities in and around Round Rock, and Williamson County, Texas:
Cedar Park, Round Rock, Leander, Georgetown, Liberty Hill, Hutto, Taylor, Killeen, Temple, Coppers Cove and Austin.