Communication is an integral part of marriage, and often, it breaks down when that relationship nears its end. This is one reason why divorce can become so contentious.

However, if you can practice effective, responsible communication during your divorce, you may find that you are able to navigate the process more amicably. And knowing when to speak up and when to bite your tongue will be a critical element.

When you should say nothing

Throughout your divorce, avoid:

  • Making false allegations against your ex
  • Fighting in front of your kids
  • Threatening your ex
  • Harassing or bullying your ex or their family
  • Name-calling during mediation or court hearings
  • Saying unkind things about your ex and their family to your children

Saying these types of things might feel good or justified, but they rarely have a positive impact on divorce. More frequently, they are disruptive and can make you look bad in the eyes of your friends, your children and the court.

When you should speak up

There are also times when speaking up and saying something can be crucial. For instance, you should say something if:

  • Your ex is attempting to hide assets
  • Your ex or child is making false accusations against you
  • Your ex is threatening or trying to hurt you
  • You do not think your property division is fair
  • You want to request spousal support
  • You have concerns about your child’s well-being
  • You want to keep specific property
  • You will be late to a custody exchange or have questions about your parenting plan

Under these circumstances, you will want to say something. Depending on the situation, you can talk to your attorney, to your ex, or potentially to law enforcement agents.

It can also be wise to put your communications in writing. Even if you have a conversation on the phone or in person, make a note of what you discussed and when it happened (“Dear X, To confirm the details of our phone conversation, …”). Doing this gives you something to refer back to if there are ever any questions or conflicts.

Thinking carefully about how and when you communicate during a divorce can allow you to make clear-headed decisions that keep the process moving in the right direction.