Always remember this: “Anything you write can and will be used against you. Any conversations may be recorded and can and will be used against you.”
When it comes to communicating with your ex-spouse or ex-partner, hereafter referred to as the “ex,” anytime you must communicate, it is absolutely critical that you do so in a calm, rational manner. We often recommend that all communications must be done professionally and courteously. Operate on the assumption that all phone conversations are being recorded, whether it is permitted in your state or not. Anything put in writing you must assume has the potential to become an exhibit in any future conference or hearing.
When you are embroiled in custody litigation, it is imperative that you learn that you are no longer in a relationship where you can argue with your ex in previous free-wheeling, no-holds-barred, let the expletives fly fashion. You need to become a patient and skilled communicator beyond anything you may previously believed yourself capable of. Why?
“Anything you write can and will be used against you. Any conversations may be recorded and can and will be used against you.”
If you are one of the rare couples who have a mutually agreeable and harmonious divorce or breakup, much of what you will read here will not be applicable. However, the education you will receive here is no less valuable.
In most breakups and divorces involving children, there is high emotion, high tension, high anxiety, and high conflict between the parents. This tension creates anxiety for the children, too! Children can sense their parent’s anxiety. It’s in their voices. It’s in their body language. It’s in their behavior.
In order to significantly reduce or entirely eliminate the anxiety for the parents, the children, and for those collateral contacts who may be close to the situation (grandparents, step-parents, friends, etc.) – you must learn the rules of LOW-CONTACT. Low-contact will reduce the tension, anxiety, and acrimony for the practitioner, if no one else. Those people who have followed our recommendations have reported:
- Dramatically reduced upset, anxiety, and pressure associated with their situation.
- Improved relationships with their children.
- Improved sleep.
- Reduced blood-pressure.
- More than a few have reported that their marriages/new relationships have been literally saved by employing low-contact principles when dealing with the high-conflict ex.
While we could never realistically claim any medical benefit from employing low-contact principles, our own personal experiences have touched on each one of the above results. The feedback we have received from others indicates much the same and more!
Even in situations where you believe that there is no reason to expect tension between you and the ex, the two basic rules are important in reducing and eliminate potential problems
Rule #1 – Eliminate all face-to-face communications where appropriate. ALL means ALL. This means at custody exchanges. It means telephone contact. It means chance meetings at the supermarket or anywhere else. The only exception to this rule would be those which involve true emergency situations involving the children.
Rule #2 – All communication must be done in writing. You may use email, regular mail, fax, telegraph, text-message, even instant-message services. All communications must be documented and message communicated in the clearest possible manner using the fewest words possible. We will often recommend using bullet-points to address only legitimate issues pertaining to the children. This does not include attempts at idle chit-chat regarding things associated with the children.
There is a wealth of research that demonstrates constant and chronic conflict between parents negatively impacts the children. It can affect them physically, mentally, and emotionally. The affects can be long-lasting, too. In fact, depending upon the frequency and severity of the negative interactions between parents, it can last a lifetime.
After the family breaks up, the children’s only wish (in many cases) is that their mom and dad would simply get back together and get along. Their foundation of love and security has been shattered and their world has been turned upside down. They want to be with both parents. They want to love and be loved by both parents. We all are well-aware that children, particularly in their younger years, will do just about anything to please their mother and father. When high-conflict exists between their parents, the children’s world is in a major upheaval. They may feel as though their loyalty to one parent or the other is being tested and there exists an abject fear of disappointing one or the other. They are confused over who they need to protect from whom. These are feelings that are often lost in the parents desire to continue to escalate the conflict with one another.
Your actions and reactions will forever be etched in their memories. It will affect their relationships with family and friends. It will affect their future relationships with their own partners (boyfriends, girlfriends, husbands, wives). It will affect their relationships with colleagues in the workplace. It is vitally important that you act accordingly. How you act today can have either positive or devastating affects on their own interpersonal relationships later in their lives.
The high-conflict relationship with your ex is defined by one or both of you being unwilling or unable to end the contentious marital relationship. You’re doing all the same things. You’re saying all the same things. You’re fighting and communicating all the same ways. The only thing that is different is that you’re not living in the same household. At least, we hope you’re not still living in the same household!
Parents like these have tremendous difficulty with the breakup for any number of reasons. The parent who cannot let go feels:
- They must have constant contact with the target parent.
- They are invested in keeping themselves informed of the target parent’s goings-on.
- They must be made fully aware of the behaviors of the target parent.
- They insist they must constantly be with the target parent and/or the children.
- They want to continue to have all of the perceived “rights” of marriage without any of the responsibilities.
Fear and insecurity is what drives them to stay in contact and communication with the other parent. Fear and insecurity is what keeps them involved in “the fight” for their children. The more that this contact is permitted to occur, the higher the conflict will continue to escalate.
Increased contact doesn’t allay the fears of the offending parent(s). Quite the opposite is what occurs. The more they know, the more that knowledge morphs into a greater fear that they are losing control of both the target parent and the children.
Throughout this site and on our forums, we will discuss various aspects of low-contact and ways to employ this methodology in all of your communications with the high-conflict ex. Not only will doing so keep you out of potential legal trouble, we’re sure you’ll find it will dramatically decrease your stress level, even if the low-contact ultimately ends up being one-sided.
We leave you with this thought: when the parents begin to employ methods to calm the conflict, both you and your children will also calm down. It only takes one parent to begin moving towards low-contact to dramatically reduce, if not eliminate, the conflict that comes with post-divorce communications. Consider using: Our Family Wizard.