5 Tips for communicating with your ex-partner

By Timothy Henderson  |  November 23, 2020

Timothy Henderson

When you separate or divorce, communication with your ex-partner can be tricky, especially when emotions are running high. What’s the best way to proceed? You should assume that anything that you say will later appear in Court documents or oral testimony–likely in a negative manner–and that anything that you put in writing will later be attached to Court documents to be read by a Judge. Therefore, as difficult as it may be, always speak and write to or about your ex-partner in a manner that you will not later regret.

Here are some tips to remember about communicating with your ex-partner:

1. Create a new e-mail account

This new email account is exclusively and specifically for communication with your ex-partner. Not only will this keep all of your written communications in one central location and make them easier to locate in the future, if necessary, but it will remind you that you are writing something which may be used against you or for your benefit at a later date.

2. Do not delete anything

The problem is once something is posted or sent online, it is out there, whether you delete it on your own computer or not. Your electronically stored information–which includes posts on social media–will often be relevant to some aspect of your matter.

In legal proceedings related to a family separation, you will most likely be required to exchange documents with your former spouse as a part of the disclosure requirements of the legal process. All your documents, in whatever format, must be made available and preserved for your former spouse and their lawyer to the extent they are relevant, and this includes paper and electronic versions.

You have to also keep all e-mails, text messages, and social media posts relevant to the family law dispute. Nothing you have said or written before or after your separation is allowed to be destroyed as it is part of the electronic evidence that may become relevant.

Your lawyer may suggest that you take a screen shot of relevant e-mails, text messages, or social media posts. Save those screen shots to a separate device, such as a flash drive, in case you have technical problems with your phone or computer and aren’t able to access them later. Keep the separate device in a secure place.

3. Do not log into your ex-partner’s account

Even though your former spouse or partner has left their accounts open on the mutual computer or you know their password, you shouldn’t peek. Technically it’s an invasion of privacy (which could potentially leave you open to a charge under the Criminal Code). And, even if you see something that you think will help your case, Judges tend to view the way it was obtained in an unfavourable light, so it could hurt your credibility. And, remember to log out of your accounts and change passwords on everything!

4. Keep it simple

E-mails should be short and clear. If you have more than one issue to cover, number each one. If the other party has referred to a number in their e-mail, answer by referring to that number. E-mails and texts should not rehash or make judgements about past events, and they should not blame or criticize the other spouse about past events. If you have children, the communication should be focused on the children. If you’re having trouble following these rules, have a third-party friend or family member read over the communication to check if it’s aggravating or inflammatory.

5. Consider communication tools

You could use a very factual e-mail template to communicate about issues such as your child’s health or activities. If you have a verbal conversation about a particular issue, it’s often a good idea to keep a journal, with an entry that includes the date and what was discussed (this is helpful if the conversation is later disputed). There are also specific apps, such as OurFamilyWizard, that you can use to communicate with your ex. The advantage to an app is generally that it keeps a clear record of digital conversations, which can’t be deleted or altered.

Questions or concerns about communicating with your ex-partner? Contact Henderson Family Law to set up an appointment for legal advice.


This content is provided as a general informational source by Henderson Family Law, and does not constitute legal advice or opinion, or establish a lawyer-client relationship. Every situation is complex and fact-specific, and appropriate advice will vary accordingly. Do not rely on this information for legal decision-making under any circumstances. Please consult with us and obtain proper advice and strategy concerning the specifics of your particular situation.

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