How To Maintain Communication With A Spouse After Divorce

Whether you’ve been divorced for some time or are just beginning the process, excellent communication is key. Divorce is fraught with emotion, and even face-to-face communication can be misconstrued, much less electronic communication or messages sent through attorneys or other third parties.

Whether you are communicating to share a vacation home or pet, or need to plan for and track the life of your child/children as they move between your homes, there are a few free and paid services which can help. We’ve compiled these below, along with a few tips for healthy communication during or after a divorce.

If you need a divorce attorney, setup a free initial consultation with Jennifer Nixon to learn more about how she can work with you in your situation.

Tips For Quality Communication & Reducing Misunderstandings

Listen

Communicating with maturity starts with listening. Even if you disagree, start by conveying that you’ve understood their point of view. Listening does not signify approval, so you won’t lose anything by allowing them to voice their opinions.

Use A Neutral Tone

Approach the relationship as a business partnership. Speak or write to them as you would a colleague – with cordiality, respect, and neutrality. Relax and talk (or write) slowly and calmly.

Make Requests

Instead of making statements, which can be misinterpreted as demands, try framing as much as you can as requests. Requests can begin “Would you be willing to…?” or “Can we try…?”

Child-Focused

Keep conversations kid-focused. Never let a discussion digress into a conversation about your needs or your co-parent’s needs; it should always be about your child’s needs only.

Possible Tools To Enhance Communication*

OurFamilyWizard

OurFamilyWizard is a mobile app and website designed to “reduce the stress of managing communication and family plans across separate households.” OurFamilyWizard is a paid option, but it can be worth it if communication is difficult. OurFamilyWizard has the following optional tools:

  • Shared Parenting Calendar
  • Message Board
  • Tonemeter (identifies and flags emotionally charged sentences)
  • Contact Information Bank
  • Expense Log
  • Journal
  • Notifications

Google

Google maintains a suite of mobile app and website tools which can be used for communication within or across households. Google is also free, and many people already use their email and other tools. Chief among those tools helpful in a divorce are:

  • Google Calendar (Shared or Private)
  • Google Drive (Document Storage)
  • Gmail & Google Hangouts (Email & Messaging)

Cozi

Cozi is another solution for communication, helping keep everyone on the same page. It offers:

  • Shared Parenting Calendar
  • Family Journal (share photos, videos, stories)
  • To-Do Lists

2houses

2houses facilitates communication between family members, organizing schedules and reducing conflicts. 2houses is very similar to OurFamilyWizard, and is also a tool targeted specifically to co-parents. It offers:

  • Calendar
  • Financial Management
  • Family Journal (share photos, videos, stories)
  • Contact/Finance/Medical Information Bank

*Disclaimer:The Law Office Of Jennifer Nixon does not endorse any particular tool for maintaining communication through or after a divorce. These examples are merely a sampling of the hundreds of tools available for online communication in its various forms. Feature lists are not all-inclusive.

How The Collaborative Process Can Help Reduce Hostility In Divorce

You may turn to collaborative divorce for a variety of reasons.

Maybe you want to maintain control of the divorce process instead of leaving the decisions up to a judge. You may simply wish to avoid the adversarial divorce you saw your parents have.

Traditional, court-based divorces can often be emotionally draining and difficult, especially for any children involved. Collaborative divorce seeks to avoid the hostility of court-based divorce by giving equal consideration to the interests of both spouses. Let’s see how we can reduce hostility with this strategy.

When you’re ready, setup a free initial consultation with Jennifer Nixon to learn more about how she can work with you in your situation.

Control Is Retained By You & Your Spouse, Not The Court

Collaborative divorce keeps the power in your hands, not the court’s.

The collaborative process requires both parties’ attorneys to commit to the process and not rely on court-based solutions. If for some reason the process does not work, the attorneys will remove themselves from the proceedings and new attorneys must be retained. This encourages parties to see the process through, and allows for more open discussions and creative problem solving. Once a full settlement is reached, the court still reviews and signs the agreement in an order, meaning it can be enforced in the court in the future if it needs to be.

Also, because a court is not monitoring the case and moving it forward on the calendar, the parties are able to advance at their own pace, and in a non-confrontational manner.

Family Needs Are Kept At Forefront

When collaborative divorce professionals are retained, they work to serve your entire family’s needs. Children especially are protected, using a child or family specialist to help find the best solution for your children. A child specialist might meet with your children, to find out more about them and what they need from a parenting time arrangement, without putting them in the middle or asking them to choose sides. While your attorney is a representative in your corner just like in the traditional, court-based process, the entire team works together to find amenable solutions that will work for the entire family.

These strategies work best in a relationship where the couple does not have a power imbalance.

Open Communication And Honesty Are The Norm

When it comes to divorce, things can get messy. But with collaborative divorce, open communication and honesty are absolutely necessary for the process to work. The goal is to find a compromise which works for everyone. While both attorneys respect their clients wishes, it’s important to be completely honest and to trust that your spouse is also being honest so the whole family can leave with the best outcome.

How To Choose A Divorce Attorney

Choosing your divorce attorney is one of the first significant decisions in your divorce process, especially since this choice could affect your future relationship with your spouse.

We’ve put together a guide on how to choose a divorce attorney below. When you’re ready, setup a free initial consultation with Jennifer Nixon to learn more about how she can work with you in your situation.

Know Your Goals

It’s important to know your goals because one divorce attorney may be more experienced with prenuptial agreements or collaborative divorce, while another may have more experience with orders for protection or parenting time.

Also, some attorneys regularly represent clients in divorces, while others take only a few cases per year. Those attorneys who represent clients in divorces on a regular basis are more likely to be experienced with different processes and what might be right for you, other professionals who could be involved in your case, and other attorneys.

Ensure you know exactly what you’re looking for in an attorney before you start to search.

Research Divorce Attorneys

Once you know what your goals are, find a few attorneys in your area who will help you with those goals. If you know others who have used divorce attorneys, ask who they used and if they would recommend them. Other professionals you work with, like your counselor or a realtor, might also have recommendations of divorce attorneys.

You also want a variety of attorneys to consider, because besides vetting them online, you’ll want to meet them in person.

Meet In Person

Set up an in-person consultation with the divorce attorneys you’re most comfortable with after your research. Give them some information about your case ahead of time so they can read it over and be prepared.

Divorces are very personal, so you will want to find an attorney who you feel comfortable with. The best way to do this is to meet in person and ask them about your case, their approach to divorce cases and how they will work with you.

You should be prepared with some questions as well, to help you decide who’s right for you.

Have Questions Prepared

Some sample questions you may be able to use, depending on your particular case:

  • What amount of your practice is family law?
  • How will you involve me in my case?
  • What kind of experience do you have in handling cases like mine?
  • What is your retainer fee and hourly billing rate? What does that include?

3 Differences Between Collaborative Divorce & Divorce Mediation

While both processes attempt to keep your divorce out of court, collaborative divorce and divorce mediation have some important differences to be aware of.

If you’re planning to attempt an alternative to traditional divorce, set up a free initial consultation with Jennifer Nixon to learn if an alternative divorce process is the right choice for your situation.

1. Receive More Guidance With Collaborative Divorce

In a collaborative divorce, each spouse hires a collaboratively-trained lawyer to represent them in negotiations. Often these are in “four-way” meetings and are meant to provide a pathway to an amicable divorce.

In a mediated divorce, neither spouse needs a lawyer and can instead rely only on a neutral mediator. This mediator will provide prompts, but will not advise you or your spouse on what might be best for you.

Lawyers are desirable for you as they can provide more advice, and assist you with making sure your rights are protected while still working together with your spouse and their lawyer.

2. Take Advantage Of A Team Of Experts in the Collaborative Process

Through collaborative divorce, you and your spouse bring in experts in specific areas to help identify the best course of action in any situation, such as:

  • a child specialist who can help you with a parenting plan that will work best for your kids;
  • a financial neutral who can help you with the division of assets and debts, as well as cash flow, including spousal maintenance (alimony) and child support;
  • a divorce coach to help with the emotional aspects of the divorce and to help you communicate as your best selves through the process .

Financial, tax, relationship and other experts are able to provide unbiased opinions on how best to move forward with your specific situation which both you and your spouse can then agree on.

When children are involved, it can be particularly helpful to bring in a child specialist as an expert in the field. They can look at the situation objectively and come up with an effective custody and parenting time arrangement which puts the well-being of the children first.

In mediation, a mediator may have a background in mental health or as a financial expert, or could even be an attorney, but their role as a mediator is to help you reach an agreement. Their skills in conflict resolution are used as a mediator, but they may not be using their specialized skills in the same way that a neutral in the collaborative process would.

3. Collaborative Divorce Is More Likely To Stay Out Of Court

With collaborative divorce, you’re more likely to stay out of court than using mediation. With lawyers involved right away – though not in an adversarial fashion – you and your spouse are more likely to find a resolution and be able to ground it in solid legal terms which are amenable to both, saving you the time and money of going to court.

The major difference with collaborative divorce as opposed to other processes is that both spouses and any professionals involved make a commitment not to go to court. If for some reason the process breaks down, which is very rare, the attorneys and other professionals withdraw and litigation counsel must be hired. This allows for creative problem solving because all parties are committed to settlement, instead of preparing for trial. In mediation, trial is always still on the horizon, which makes the conversations different and makes trial a greater possibility.

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