5 Tips for Effective Communication in Divorce

One of the top reasons couples divorce is due to a lack of communication, so it’s not surprising that this is often a struggle during and post-divorce as well. Not only will you need to continue communicating with your ex during negotiations, but you will also be conferring with divorce professionals like attorneys, mediators, and coaches.

 All of this conversation can feel overwhelming when you are coping with your emotions at the same time, but we have some tips to help you perfect how you communicate in divorce, and beyond.

Divorce Communication Tips:

  • Practice the BIFF Response Method: Brief, Informative, Friendly, Firm
  • THINK before you respond: Is it True? Is it Helpful? Is it Inspiring? Is it Necessary? Is it Kind?
  • Set clear boundaries with your ex, and any divorce professionals you’re working with
  • No response is a response: Avoid not responding simply to get a rise out of your ex
  • Take your time and take a break

1. Practice the BIFF Response Method

The BIFF Response Method was created by Bill Eddy, LCSW, as a way to respond to hostile comments or someone with a high-conflict personality. BIFF stands for:

  • Brief– Keep your response short, preferably to a paragraph or less. This is true even when they respond with lengthy texts or emails.
  • Informative– Focus on providing relevant information on the main topic at hand. If your ex goes off on a tangent, gently redirect the conversation.
  • Friendly– By responding in a polite manner, it dispels the disagreement, rather than adding fuel to the fire. Being the bigger person isn’t always easy, but it’s worth it.
  • Firm– End the conversation as calmly and quickly as possible once the issue has been resolved. If you don’t receive a response and things are getting more hostile, end the conversation and circle back later.

2. THINK before you respond.

When you’re looking to communicate with your ex more effectively, remember the acronym THINK is what your saying:

  • True?– Are you sharing a fact, or an opinion
  • Helpful?– Will you be contributing in a helpful manner to the conversation or escalating things further
  • Inspiring?– Will your ex be more apt to listen or respond after you’ve finished speaking
  • Necessary?– Does it really need to be said
  • Kind?– Are you speaking in a respectful manner, even if they aren’t

3. Set clear boundaries regarding communication.

Communicating with your ex and divorce professionals during the divorce process can feel like a business transaction, and in many ways, it is. Set clear boundaries when it comes to communication, the same way you would at work. Specify how you’d like to communicate (e.g. phone, email, text) and when (e.g. no weekends, nothing during work hours, etc.). While you can’t expect your ex and everyone you converse with about your divorce to respect your boundaries, you can hold firm in them so that it becomes the norm with time.

4.  No response is a response.

Keep in mind that when you don’t respond, you are actually responding. Ignoring that text from your ex or communication from a divorce professional may not work in your favor. It’s better to use the BIFF Response Method we mentioned above, keeping your response brief and firm. A simple thumbs up to a text, or “Got it” to an email is enough to acknowledge you’ve received the information.

5. Take your time when responding and take a break when you need it.

Don’t reply hastily to important correspondence. Instead, take a breath and some time to think through your response. You may even want to write out your response but not send it, then come back to it a few hours later to see if it needs editing once you’ve cooled down. While it’s important to acknowledge receipt of pertinent information, it’s equally important to take a break from the divorce process when you need it. Remember, it’s a marathon, not a sprint; if you don’t take breaks when you’re feeling overwhelmed, you can experience burnout. Your mental, physical, and emotional health matters, too!

Effective communication takes time. While you can’t expect to respond to every piece of correspondence flawlessly at first, you can become a divorce communication pro by utilizing these tips!

Looking for more ways to increase your communication skills? Read these helpful resources:

Related Blogs:

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Essential Resources

If you’re facing legal/custody battles, a mental health crisis, an urgent medical issue, serious emotional problems, including suicidal thoughts, please seek help from the appropriate professionals near you.

Suicide hotline: 1-800-273-8255
Suicide Prevention Lifeline:
Crisis line: 1-800-356-5395
Crisis text line: Text “help” to 741741
The National Domestic Violence Hotline
The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV)

Split.fyi Resources
Split.fyi Marital Life Inventory
Divorce Lifecycle Document
Divorce Process Overview


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