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Dear Katrina, what should I avoid when communicating with my ex-partner following separation?

This is the opening quote in a judgement handed down in the Family Court of Australia. In this case, the Court was determining final parenting arrangements for a seven year old boy: “Listen here you fat (blank)”…“your bogan (blank) can play happy families on Facebook with her kids as [X] is no longer available for you to use. He is my son and not your paycheck, you bludging junkie filth.”…“you are as weak as piss and a completed moron if you think I care if you are alive or dead (blank)”.

This was a parent’s Facebook post quoted by the Judge to demonstrate how NOT to communicate after separation.

With social media having invaded almost every part of our lives, it’s always tempting to jump onto the keyboard and offload your anger at your ex-partner, the “system” or society in general. This isn’t helpful to your parenting relationship, your children or your case if you happen to be in the unfortunate situation of being involved in the family law court system. The old adage, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all,” is a mantra to be recommended when separated parents are communicating about parenting matters.

The other thing that you should keep in mind is that it’s likely that everything that you write via social media, text message or email is being recorded for future use. Therefore, it’s important that you keep your communication respectful, concise and child-focused.

If parents are finding it difficult to communicate regarding parenting matters, then a more formal approach may be needed. There are many great online communication tools for co-parents including Coparently, Our Family Wizard, Coz and the most popular amongst our clients – Talking Parents.

Katrina Peters

Associate at Statewide Legal Practice