5 Reasons and 5 Steps to Communicate with Your Co-parent

co-parenting communication

Building a parenting partnership during and after divorce requires effective communication on a regular basis. Even if don’t like each other, or you disagree on many issues, you need to face the fact that finding a way to communicate between homes is essential. Here are five  important reasons to find a way to communicate with your co-parent.

  1. Sharing information between homes creates continuity across households for your child/ren.
  2. Co-parent communication will increase the likelihood of working together as a team and presenting a united front to your child(ren).
  3. Businesslike communication can reduce misunderstandings and conflicts.
  4. Regular contact with your co-parent may reduce your child’s ability to manipulate the two of you.
  5. Unless you have sole custody, you will be required to consult with your co-parent on important matters such as education, medical decisions, religious matters and extra-curricular activities. This is known as joint “legal” custody. Joint legal custody does not mean that both parents have equal time but it does mean you must consult with one another on important parenting decisions. Sometimes there is a “tie breaker” designated in your parenting plan.  However, this does not mean you do not have to communicate.  You must consult with your co-parent even if you have the “official” final say.  Making unilateral decisions will put you at risk of a contempt charge.  You must take your legal responsibilities seriously.

Either way, you must find a way to open up regular communicate between homes. Creating a co-parent communication plan requires some considerations.

Related Article: Co-Parenting Tips for Divorced Parents

5 Steps for setting up a co-parenting communication plan

Step 1. ESTABLISH your expectations about communication with your co-parent. Identify the topics to be addressed as well as those that are off limits. Interestingly most co-parents in conflicted relationships report they either do not receive enough communication or they complain that they are bombarded with too many texts or lengthy emails. If you send too much information you likely want your co-parent to provide more information and they want you to provide less! One way to reduce conflict is to be sure that you are giving your co-parent what they need rather than what you want. Inquire as to the frequency and length your co-parent would prefer. Then stick to that plan for a period of time prior to evaluating if the system is working for both of you.

STEP 2. DETERMINE the frequency of your communications and again consider what your co-parent would prefer along with what works for you. You have several options including scheduled weekly phone calls or email correspondence, daily communication or even “as needed.” When communicating “as needed” you only communicate when necessary rather than on a regular schedule. You will need to determine the balance between “as needed” communication and daily communication. If you choose to communicate “as needed” it may not be enough while daily communication may be become burdensome. The higher the conflict between the two of you the more we would recommend you consider weekly email communication with a designated day to send and 24 hours to respond. Then only urgent matters would be communicated on any other day.

Urgent matters might include the inability to pick up your child, a change in the activity schedule, the addition of a new medication or if your child has been suspended from school. However, in emergency situations, you should always communication as soon as possible. In emergency situations such as transporting your child to the emergency room, communicate with your co-parent once you have driven your child to the hospital and checked in unless you are a passenger in the car and able to call. However, focus your attention on the needs of your child first.

STEP 3. SELECT the form of communication. Options include email, phone, text, parenting log, skype or in person. The more conflicted the relationship the more important it is to have a written document of your communications. Less conflicted parents may be successful with weekly phone calls or even a brief coffee meeting once a week to discuss the children.

STEP 4. RECOGNISE that less is more. Adequate information is necessary but using the least amount of words can often reduce irritation and confusion. If you are highly conflicted “less is more” so consider doing weekly communication and save other communications strictly for urgent or emergency matters.

STEP 5. EVALUATE the effectiveness of your plan and revise as needed. Be sure to give any plan several weeks to determine what if anything needs to be changed.

No matter what you decide, decide to communicate. The need to communicate between two homes is even greater than the need to communicate within one home! When you give your child(ren) the gift of a strong parenting relationship and a healthy two-home family, you are truly giving them one of the best gifts a parent can ever give.


For more articles please visit the Resolve Conflict Blog here. If you have any queries on Family Law or Mediation please don’t hesitate to contact us on 03 9620 0088 or email info@resolveconflict.com.au


This article was originally published by Susan Boyan on 17th April 2014 via coparentinginstitute.com

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