The Benefits of Effective Communication in Divorce

Mar 25, 2009

In this article, I am picking back up on the discussion of the importance of communication in divorce matters. In the last post, I discussed the problems that poor communication causes and described the communication techniques that best promote effective communication. The next logical topic is how parties actually benefit from learning to communicate effectively.

The short answer is that effective communication saves time, money, energy and potentially a lifetime of conflict with your ex-spouse.

Most importantly, however, is that effective communication significantly raises the odds that the parties will reach an agreement at all. Many cases are forced to litigation when the parties’ lack of effective communication torpedoes settlement negotiations. People that want to avoid litigation need to learn to communicate with each other.

In addition, when people communicate effectively, they reach agreements faster. This is usually because tangential issues, emotional roadblocks and counter productive negotiations are avoided. This effect can lead to agreements that are reached in weeks or months as opposed to years.

When clients are dealing with their attorneys, there is one cardinal rule: Time is money. Thus, the reduction in the time it takes to reach an agreement provides significant savings for clients in legal fees. The money that clients save when they learn to communicate effectively can go to their retirement funds, monthly cash flow, rainy day fund or to their kids. As I tell clients: You can either put my kids through college, or you can put your kids through college. In fact, the number one thing that clients can do to reduce legal bills is to learn to communicate effectively with their spouse or ex-spouse.

One of the most underrated benefits to effectively communicating in a divorce matter is the reduction of emotional trauma to the parties and their families. Everyone has heard the horror stories about ugly divorces and their affect on children, relatives, friendships, careers, etc…People rarely realize that an ugly divorce takes a huge emotional toll on them until it is too late. No divorce is pleasant. But, every divorce need not be emotionally devastating. Effective communication can greatly reduce the emotional toll of divorce. This emotional toll is often the difference between people who bounce back after a divorce and go on to live their lives to the fullest, and the people who never seem to recover from a divorce.

Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, divorcing parents have an obligation to learn how to communicate effectively for the sake of their children. Co-parenting children requires effective communication for a happily married couple living in the same house. Communication becomes even more important for divorced parents trying to co-parent from different households. Raising children of any age requires dozens of decisions each day. Many of those require the input of both parents. If the parents cannot put aside emotional issues between themselves and communicate effectively, their children will suffer the consequences. I have seen children miss out on extracurricular and other great opportunities simply because the parents could not stop fighting long enough to discuss the issue.

Divorced parents often ignore the long term affects of ineffective communication on the lives of their children and their own lives. Parenting does not end when a child turns 18. Parents will be involved in graduations, birthdays, holidays, weddings, the birth of grandchildren, etc…More than likely, both parents will want to be involved in these events. That means that parents will be tied to each other, and will have to see each other for the rest of their lives . Or, they will force their children to choose which parent gets to participate in the events of their lives. This being the case, the only reasonable long term solution is for parents to learn to get along. The biggest part of that is learning to communicate effectively.

There are countless benefits to effective communication between divorcing or divorced parties; far too many to address here. They impact every part of a client’s life: financial, emotional and even physical health. More importantly, the ability to effectively communicate affects the lives of children, friends and family. Divorcing parties owe it to themselves and everybody that they care about to learn to communicate effectively when ending their marriage.

In my next post, I will address a great point made by my pastor recently: “If people could communicate effectively, they would not get divorced in the first place.”

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