How to create divorce & custody plans with uncommunicative spouse

First off, thank you for the feedback you have all offered over the years. Separating from the father of my children has been difficult and a process that has taken me years! Now I am reaching out for feedback on communication. Back in January I sent him a letter via email, text and WhatsApp asking him to consider the sale of our property and splitting the equity in half. In this letter, I asked him to respond in 30 days in the manner he sought best fit. No response. Seeing that he had no intention of responding, I decided to rent a house and leave our home. We have been separated under the same home for close to 4 years and that has brought a lot of anxiety to me, and my children have witnessed my depression, so I just wanted out. I wrote him a second letter and gave it to him in the same manner as I did the first one. In this second letter I informed him that  I would be moving out, laid out a 'suggested' custody arrangement, as well as my wishes for better communication with him. I advised him that I was willing to work with him on the schedule and time he spent with the kids and invited him to communicate with me in the way he found best fit for him; writing, text, verbal. I am not shocked that he has not responded and its been over a month. 

Currently, and for years, he has left the house at his leisure with no regard to me, the kids schedule or events. He just leaves. Last week I overheard him tell our 11 year old that he would be taking her and my son, who is 8, to LA. I texted him the following morning asking him for details about this trip and he stated "our daughter already told you the plan." First off, no she had not. And second, she is an 11 year old child and should not be serving him as a communication agent. I reminded him that she was a child and he was the adult and while I wouldn't prevent him from spending time with the kids, I did need for him to be more accessible and communicative. My son was treatment for strep throat and allergies, which he was not aware about because he was gone. I advised him on the treatment and packed him a cooler with his meds and gave him clear instructions. They left Thursday and despite my many attempts to reach out to him to ask about my kids, he didn't respond. On Sunday he calls me and asks me what the pink medicine was for. He never gave our son his antibiotics and interrupted his 10 day treatment for 3 days. I asked him to handle it by calling the advice nurse or by sending the doctor a note asking how to move forward. He never did. Also, when I spoke with my children later that they, they were both sad as his dad had blamed them both for not reminding him that my son needed his medicine. I spent 40 minutes on the phone that night making the call his dad should have made. I will be moving in 10 days, and my anxiety level is through the roof.

I worry about his continued lack of willingness to communicate will not go away and I am upset that he wants to use the kids as middle men to communicate with me, as he already does. Have you experienced a similar scenario? Did you have to go to court? Should I send him a notarized letter with communication expectations before seeking legal help? I was hoping we didn't have to go to court to fight over custody as I am willing to work things outside of court. I communicate mainly via text with him, because he wont speak to me, and if I address him verbally, he ignores me.

Thank you

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I went through some similar struggles with my now ex husband although we were not living together. When I went to a therapist to discuss the issue, she said "this is what courts are for." I finally decided to hire a lawyer because I was through trying to manage things on my own. It was the best decision I could have made. I hired a reasonable lawyer who was not interested in creating more drama and my ex hired a lawyer too. We came up with a parenting plan that we could both live with, divided our assets and finalized our divorce. Having a written custody agreement where things like communication, travel, medical care, etc are spelled out in advance prevents a lot of conflict. 

Hi there,

Went through the same thing. Communicate concisely by Email only and have it BCC’d to all of your emails. Every month put the communications in a binder in date order. Make sure you keep your medical insurance, they are in school, have issues addressed in court.

Do not fight! Remember in California it is 50/50 period...unless there is danger. 

Ask the judge to order all communications by email! Keep it simple. Be kind even though you dont want to! Emails work...texts do not!!!

I understand your wish to go to avoid an adversarial divorce, but what you're dealing with is untenable for you and it's unhealthy for your kids, too. Have you considered mediation? Mediators know family law, they've *seen it all*, and they can steer tense conversations to help you work through to a concrete, practical strategy that you then record in a legally binding agreement. My ex and I used Eva Herzer, but that was over 10 years ago.

Regardless of what agreement you eventually reach, it sounds like you're dealing with somebody who isn't on top of the kids' day-to-day care and you'll need some solutions for that. Co-parenting got a lot easier for me when my older daughter got a phone and I could communicate with her and her sister directly; it allayed my worries and made it easier to pass along reminders about things like medications, school field trips, etc. School lunches were a struggle on the days when my kids weren't with me, so I signed my kids up for hot lunch at school. Maybe he'll grow into his new role, but if he doesn't you can still help your kids. Best of luck to you.

This is abuse, manipulation and neglect.  His communication is not likely to change and he is neglecting your children.  I would get some solid legal advice and be contacting an abuse hotline for information and advice.  There is no way to cherry coat this.  

There is a website called “Talking Parents”.  It is often used by the courts to help parents track communication.  This way you have legal record of your communications and his lack of response.  I know some families who use it for all communications.  It does require his cooperation to set it up and use.  I doesn’t look like you can safely and effectively avoid lawyers.