In many instances, leading up to the filing of dissolution or following the filing, “getting along civilly” with your spouse may become increasingly difficult. Many clients ask how they should respond to rude, belligerent, or quarrelsome communications received from their spouse. In other cases the difficulty is a lack of communication.
When you receive unsavory communications from your ex- (or soon to be ex-) spouse, we recommend the following three steps:
- Only communicate in formats that require little personal contact. Instead of picking up the phone, I typically suggest writing an email. In many instances, asking your spouse to put their communications in writing may make them exercise control over what is said. More importantly it gives the responding spouse more time to control responses. Email, when used properly, allows adequate time to digest an offending email and formulate an appropriate response, if one is even required.
- It may be necessary to communicate with your spouse through your attorney. In many high conflict custody cases, it can be difficult for parties to be civil to one another, even through email. These unsavory emails can be filtered through the attorneys rather than the parties continuing to ramp up the energy in a case by continuing to communicate directly.
- Obtain third party help. In many high conflict cases a private or family therapists may discuss with both parties ways to better communicate. Leaning how to effectively communicate with the other parent and recognizing their triggers can be very helpful in regaining civility in communications. In some instances individual therapy may also be necessary to assist in the difficulty of receiving these kinds of communications.
These are just a few of the ways I have found to be successful in assisting clients to deal with difficult communications, but each case is very different and you should discuss this with an experience family law attorney to help reduce your stress and frustration with these kinds of communications.