When I finalize a divorce judgment, I try to take the time to walk my client through the judgment of divorce to give him/her tips on how to stay out of court. When children are involved and the divorce was fairly contentious, there may be problems between the parents and the kids get caught in the cross-fire. Of course, it should go without saying that the kids should not be brought in the arguments between the divorced parents. Sadly, many parents lose sight of this basic rule of thumb and allow their kids to witness boorish, if not abuse behavior between the parents.
So, in order to avoid this stress and in an effort to foster an environment where the parties can co-parent, I give my client two words to follow in their post-divorce life: courteous and professional. That is, always speak to your ex-spouse politely and in a professional manner. Your ex-spouse may try to get on your nerves and/or try to bait you. . .don’t bite. Simply ignore the undesirable behavior and keep your communications brief. Now, this doesn’t mean that you should give your ex-spouse the cold shoulder or refuse to have social interaction with your ex-spouse. Use common sense. It’s certainly better if the two of you can get along; it helps the children adjust if they know their parents get along. In some cases, where the parties don’t get along, the kids will play one parent against the other in an effort to get his/her way.
Another effective strategy to bring peace to your post-divorce life when there are kids involved is to document all of your communications with your ex-spouse. I always recommend the use of e-mail. Texting works for money divorced parents but if you have an ex-spouse you cannot trust, then text messaging may not be the best mode of communication. Even if you receive a call from your ex, to the extent you believe necessary, follow up the call with an email. Some jurisdictions have family communication services where you send all of your messages to your ex in a monitored site where all communications are saved so there can be no manipulation of words as they are preserved! Of course, the better you get along as ex-spouses, the better it is for the kids and hopefully, you can communicate without needing to document every word you utter to each other.
Again, it’s best if the two of you can get along and co-parent amicably. In that case, there may not be a need to employ any of the mentioned strategies. Unfortunately, there are many cases where the strategies do not work and either one spouse is continually violating the judgment/order or one party simply refuses to co-parent. So, at that point, the best strategy may be to involve the court and file a motion that applies to your situation (i.e. change custody, modify parenting time, suspend parenting time [only when there are urgent situations].