How Should my Former Partner and I Communicate with One Another About Our Children?

By Karen Pritchard

Principal Associate

Clients often report difficulties in dealing with the parent of their children after a separation. Very often, this has a detrimental effect on the children, as well as on both of the parents. It can also lead to protracted disputes, which can be stressful, time-consuming and expensive for both parents.

All of the family team at Nockolds are members of Resolution, which is a national network of family lawyers committed to the constructive resolution of family disputes, and to put the best interests of children first. Resolution guidance to parents on communicating with the other after a separation is:

  • Parents should recognise that, whilst the relationship has ended, their role as parents has not. It can be helpful for parents to adopt a business-like attitude to communications with the other
  • To avoid conversations that encourage conflict. In our experience, not all difficult conversations can be avoided, but where they are necessary, careful consideration should be given to the content, timing and venue of such conversations
  • To avoid spending time and energy in trying to control the other parent or the situation, to focus on being the best parent that they can, and support the children
  • Try to address issues instead of hanging on to anger and hurt. If a parent is finding it difficult to move on, they should find help. We can help clients to identify how to obtain that help
  • Talk to the other parent respectfully
  • Practise restraint and avoid reacting when angry. Parents should listen to each other’s opinions and ideas before responding
  • Parents should agree a mutually convenient time to have any discussions. Most importantly, handovers should not be used to have such discussions
  • Heated discussions or arguments should never take place in front of or within ear-shot of the children
  • Follow up agreements or details of conversations in writing. A written follow up can minimise misunderstandings about what was said or agreed.

We would also suggest that parents enter into a parenting plan, which can be used by parents to document their agreement in relation to a number of issues. The parenting plan may include the following, but this list is not exhaustive:

  • Where the child is to live and contact with each parent
  • Which parent should hold the child’s ‘red book’, passport, or other important documentation
  • Informing the other about medical or dental treatment while the child is in their care, and when the consent of the other will be required, as well as how the cost of such treatment will be met (if relevant)
  • The religion in which the child is to be raised
  • Whether the child is to be educated in the private or state sector, how any school fees/expenses are to be shared, how information from the child’s school is to be shared, parents’ evening attendance
  • The child’s routine in both houses
  • How the child should be disciplined
  • Use of a contact book to inform the other of important events or observations about the child
  • Introduction of and contact with new partners
  • Overseas travel.

For more information on divorce and separation, and to find out how we can help you, please contact us on 0345 646 0406 for a free initial telephone consultation, or fill in our online enquiry form and a member of our Team will be in touch.