Four Ways to Make Dealing with an Impossible Ex-Spouse More Bearable
Your children are the best thing that ever happened to you, but the amount of unhappiness your ex-spouse causes you is nearly equal to the happiness your children bring. This year, you made a New Year’s resolution not to let your ex get under your skin anymore, but you made the same resolution last year and every year before that, going all the way back to your divorce.
Still, the very sound of your ex’s voice makes your blood boil. Your parenting plan requires you not to say negative things about your ex in the presence of your children, but this provision is easier for people whose ex-spouses are not monsters so horrifying they would give Stephen King nightmares.
You would never say or do anything that would harm your children or sabotage your relationship with them, but what can you do to make the long wait until your youngest child turns 18 and you no longer have to pretend to tolerate your ex less painful? An experienced Orlando divorce lawyer may be able to help.
There are a variety of legally acceptable ways to be a co-parent while having minimal contact with your ex. A Central Florida divorce lawyer can help you develop a strategy for maintaining a close and healthy relationship with your children while keeping your ex at arm’s length.
If at least one of your children is a minor when you divorce, you and your ex must finalize a permanent parenting plan, which goes into effect when your divorce becomes final and remains in effect until the youngest child turns 18. The parenting plan deals with the apportionment of parenting time (which days the children are with which parent) and decision-making authority about parenting; it is not possible for the court to determine a child support order until you agree on a parenting plan. In amicable divorce cases, the parties can agree on the terms of the parenting plan themselves.
If you and your spouse cannot agree on a parenting plan, the court will refer you to a parenting coordinator who will act as a mediator for you and your spouse while you draft a parenting plan. Parenting coordinators all come from professional backgrounds that enable them to help people going through bitter divorces establish a new normal as co-parents, and they must all take a 24-hour course and a certification exam. Many of them are medical doctors, including psychiatrists, while others hold advanced degrees in public health or psychology.
Even for divorced parents who can stand to be in the same room together for more than a few seconds, the key to raising children after divorce is agreeing to disagree. Parallel parenting is an extreme version of this, where the parents stay out of each other’s business completely.
If everything about your ex drives you crazy, the solution may be to have a few reminders of them as possible. With parallel parenting, you and your ex do not involve each other in your decisions about children’s bedtimes, screen time, snacks, or any of the other details about which co-parents disagree.
During drop-offs, you stay at the end of the driveway while your kids walk to the door, and you drive away as soon as possible. When you must communicate with your ex, it is by text message, email, or a co-parenting app.
Divorced parents who can tolerate each other can communicate by text message, What’s App, or even by phone. Even before your divorce, you might have used text messages in order to avoid talking to your spouse in person. Of course, if it were not possible to antagonize people by typing text into an electronic device, the Information Age would have played out very differently.
Several mobile apps designed to facilitate communication between divorced parents who cannot stand each other aim to remedy this problem. Our Family Wizard, which operates on a subscription basis, keeps a record of all messages between you and your ex to stop your ex from gaslighting you. Perhaps more importantly, it contains a “tone meter” that prompts you to rephrase your message before you press “send” if the first draft was excessively hostile or snarky.
An even newer app, called Peaceful Parent, offers a solution to the problem where thinking of what to say to your ex in a text message is emotionally exhausting. It contains a vast library of pre-written messages that you can send to your ex, customizing them if necessary.
Communicating Through Your Lawyer
Minimizing contact with your ex-spouse can be effective at reducing the level of stress in your life, freeing up some of your time and energy to enjoy your relationship with your children. Most of the time, exchanging pre-written messages about mundane details of drop-offs and pickups is all you need. What happens, though, when it is not possible to avoid important conversations?
Subjects like orthodontia and FAFSA, not to mention children’s health issues and your impending remarriage and move, are too complex for pre-written messages, or any text messages at all, not to mention too emotionally fraught.
When you need to have a difficult conversation about your children, but even simple conversations with your ex are excruciating, the best thing to do is to exchange emails or postal letters with your ex through your lawyers. This is especially true when discussing major life changes (such as moving) or major expenses (such as orthodontia) that would require you to modify your parenting plan or child support order. (Tip: here’s what to do when your ex refuses to pay child support.)
Contact Sean Smallwood About Your Nightmarish Co-Parenting Situation
A family law attorney in Orlando can communicate with your ex-spouse about co-parenting and child support so you do not have to. When mediation and mobile apps are not enough to keep your conflicts from bubbling over, you need a lawyer. Contact Sean Smallwood in Orlando, Florida for a consultation.
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Sean Smallwood is an Orlando divorce attorney for the law firm Sean Smallwood, Orlando Divorce & Family Law P.A. where he represents clients in all areas of family law and divorce. 100% of the practice is devoted to family law. As an attorney in Orlando, he has helped many families with a wide variety of family law cases including Divorce, Child Custody, Child Support, and many other issues.