How to Set Boundaries After a Divorce

by Kristina de la Cal

    The best way to move forward after divorce is to cut off all ties with your ex. When children are involved, however, communicating with your ex is a necessary evil. Setting reasonable boundaries then becomes your best line of defense against the emotional fallout of a broken marriage.

    Step 1

    Limit the topics of conversation that are available for discussion. You and your ex should only communicate about issues that are directly related to your children. Refrain from asking or entertaining questions of a personal nature. How your ex is doing or what he has been up to is no longer any of your business nor is your personal life any business of his. Make it clear to your ex that you are not interested in discussing subjects unrelated to your children or their best interest. Enforcing this boundary can be tough, particularly if you miss the friendship that you once shared, but it is the best way of ensuring that concern for the well-being of the children remains the driving force for your post-divorce communication.

    Step 2

    Speak to each other with respect at all times. Insisting on maintaining a certain level of mutual respect will not only make the post-divorce communication with your ex more tolerable, it will also set a good example for your children. If things ever get heated to the point where respect is being compromised, end the conversation immediately and remind your ex that you are not willing to tolerate any disrespect and that he should not bother to contact you until he is ready, willing and able to treat you with the respect that you deserve. Remember that respect is mutual: you have to give it as much as you deserve it.

    Step 3

    Keep your children as far away from the drama as possible. Your children are not messengers and should never be used as such by you or your ex. If you have something to say to each other, say it directly rather than sending a message or a note through the kids. No matter how tempting it may be, never speak badly about your ex to your children or in front of them. Ask your ex to also refrain from saying negative things about you to or in front of the kids.

    Step 4

    Adhere to the parenting plan or custody agreement at all times. Most states require that a parenting plan or some type of written custody agreement be drafted in all divorce cases involving minor children. Even if one is not required, it is a good idea to have a parenting plan in place. A parenting plan offers a written outline of visitation schedules and procedures for transitioning from one parent to another. The best way to avoid conflict with your ex is to work your personal and professional schedule around the parenting plan rather than the other way around.

    Tip

    • Maintaining healthy boundaries with your ex after a divorce requires accepting the new, limited role that you will play in each other's lives.

    About the Author

    Kristina de la Cal is a full-time teacher who has been freelance writing since 1991. She published her first book, “Breaking up without Breaking Down," in 2007 and specializes in a variety of topics including, but not limited to, relationships and issues in education. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Florida International University.

    Photo Credits

    • Polka Dot Images/Polka Dot/Getty Images