Effective communication between divorced parents is vital for the well-being of their children. When communication breaks down, it can create misunderstandings, confusion, and increased stress for both parents and children. Even if they know that peaceful communication is best, often parents ask, “Do I REALLY need to talk to my ex?”

Often a breakdown in communication is caused by lingering resentment, unresolved conflicts, or differences in parenting styles. Also, personal emotions, such as anger, hurt, or frustration, can make communication tough. If you’re still hurting from a breakup or the reasons for your split are showing up in your co-parenting relationship, the natural response can be to try to avoid all communication.  Unfortunately, taking the step of refusing to speak to your ex or blocking your ex on your phone can come back to bite you legally.

If you and your ex have joint legal custody, the law and the court who issued that order expect that both co-parents will communicate with one another to do the work of parenting.  Joint legal custody requires that parents discuss and agree on all decisions related to health, education, and religion.  If you can’t discuss anything – or won’t – how do decisions essential to your kid’s childhood get made?

The parent who refuses to communicate with his or her co-parent may end up surprised when a court considers whether joint legal custody is workable anymore.  Parents who don’t ever communicate can cause too many problems with child rearing to continue to be jointly responsible for important decisions.   That leaves one option, which is that one parent makes the decisions regarding health, education and religion.  This is called sole legal custody.  In short, you could lose the ability to make or participate in these important decisions for your children because of your history of stonewalling.

Consider getting some help to address the reasons that communicating with your ex is so painful and difficult.  This help might include some mental health counseling for you to manage your own hurt and disappointment, the use of a parenting communication app or the appointment of a Parenting Coordinator to help with communication and decision-making.

If communication has become a battleground for you and your ex, contact the attorneys at Wanzer Edwards for some tips and tricks that may help keep your joint custody arrangement intact, and help set a new tone for you and your co-parent.

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Holly Wanzer Attorney
Ms. Wanzer is a founding attorney of Wanzer Edwards, P.C. where she focuses her practice in family law and divorce, including collaborative law, family mediation, parenting coordination, appeals and representation of children as a guardian ad litem. Ms. Wanzer earned her Juris Doctor summa cum laude from the Indiana University Robert McKinney School of Law. She graduated magna cum laude from Ball State University, earning her Bachelor of Science degree in English and advertising.