Tips To Manage Toxic Communication During A Separation
When you are separating or in the process of divorcing your former spouse, communications between the parties can quickly deteriorate into something toxic, which can cause unnecessary stress, anxiety and tension. These situations can be especially harmful where children are involved and can ultimately affect the outcome of the legal aspect of the separation including parenting orders and property settlements.
Toxic communication can be one-sided or it can go both ways. Despite your best efforts, it may not just be your ex who is spouting hateful comments – you may also be engaging in toxic communication or miscommunicating in the heat of the moment. If you want to manage toxic communication during a separation, here are some hints to protect your family’s best interests.
Review the methods you use to communicate
Miscommunication may have less to do with what is being communicated and more to do with what you are using to communicate. If you and your former partner are not communicating well, it may be time to change the format by which you are communicating. Verbal conversations may become escalated compared to communications via email or letter because the writer has time to review their messaging and even have a neutral party review it so it can be rephrased if the tone is adversarial. So, if you are arguing every time you speak in person or over the phone, try sending a text, email or letter to convey your thoughts instead.
For urgent communications of a legal nature, ask your lawyer to contact your former partner’s lawyer on your behalf. Lawyers are trained in how to draft correspondence in a professional manner and will not be driven by emotion, which tends to increase tension and arguments.
Written communications will also form evidence should it be required in the future. It is also important to remember that any correspondence viewed by the Court can have a bearing on the outcome of the matter.
Seek the help of a professional
Although friends and family will likely lend a supportive ear, engaging a psychologist or counsellor is the most practical way to unload and seek advice about your situation and how to manage any toxic communication which is occurring between you and your former partner. A psychologist or counsellor can provide an impartial and unemotional view, and by seeking outside advice you can also ensure you do not wear out the patience of those in your inner circle.
Remove yourself from the conflict
Sometimes removing yourself from the conflict is the only way to avoid it. If you do not need to personally communicate with your ex-spouse then the best option may simply be to stop altogether.
A neutral party may be able to act as a conduit between the parties or better yet, if you do not want to correspond directly with your ex, you should seek to have all correspondence run through your lawyer first. They can communicate directly with your former partner’s legal representative, relay important messages to you and manage any correspondence which is not necessary to pass on to you. You may find that your ex’s temptation to contact you, particularly in an aggressive manner, is diminished when other people will be reviewing the correspondence before it reaches you.
When children are involved
It goes without saying that children should never have to witness or be made to engage in toxic communication during a separation and/or divorce. If your ex-partner is engaging in such behaviour, you should inform your solicitor who can formally request it stops, through your ex’s legal representative.
Your ex’s conduct may have a bearing on the outcome of custody arrangements, not to mention the negative impact on the child/ren, so it is important that any toxic communication in front of or through the child/ren is recorded and attempts made to stop it.
If the relationship with your ex is toxic, it is best to communicate through your lawyer.