Divorces are hard, and among the challenges are having honest conversations about potentially contentious topics. As court proceedings often take many months, issues that were not considered at the onset may arise and cause discomfort, at best, and, at worst, ugly clashes. Some hot button topics can include finances, relationships with mutual friends and associates, and dating other people. If children are involved, that can be grounds for a myriad of other possible conflicts. Having these discussions early on can not only avoid having heat of the moment conversations when conflicts do surface, but can make future talks that much easier and more cordial.
Take, for example, dating other people after filing for divorce. It is possible that while one party thinks one is free to do so once the two have filed for divorce the other believes that one should wait until the divorce is finalized to do so. There may not be a correct answer but it would behoove both parties to discuss matters which might be affected by this decision: should children and other family members meet new romantic interests? How soon? What about overnights? Few would enjoy having such awkward conversations, and it may seem unnecessary and even callous to some, but most would likely benefit from having them early on, and revisiting them from time to time, to safeguard against potential misunderstandings based on unspoken expectations.
Deciding on a platform to communicate during the separation and continuing after the divorce is important. Face-to-face conversations are not always possible and sometimes not desirable. Phone, text, and email conversations each have benefits and downfalls – telephonic conversations are usually not archived, while it’s possible to misread tone in written communication.
In this day of technology, many tools have been developed to help, especially for the challenging task of co-parenting. Some focus on simply sharing calendars to keep track of custody time and visitation or sharing of educational and medical information and expenses. Others are more comprehensive and include features that allow correspondence to be monitored by the court or other outside parties, in addition to authorized guest users. The aim is to help divorced families co-parent with transparency and less friction while keeping records of correspondence if they need to be referenced later. Each party can enter information to share with the other and the tool, whether it is an app or a website, will take care of the notification. Some, like the popular OurFamilyWizard®, even has a ToneMeter™ tool that, as its name suggests, gauges the tone of message and flags emotionally-charged languages, giving the author pause and reducing the chance of sending a message that one might regret later.
All this may seem a bit extreme for two people who have come to agree to end a marriage without much conflict, but anyone who has been through a divorce will say, there will be surprises along the way, and it’s better to expect the unexpected.