Coparenting Tips for Improving Communication from the expert authors of Overcoming the Alienation Crisis: 33 Coparenting Solutions. For more information about OCB Publications go here.
What if emails appear to be coming from my coparent’s spouse or partner under the coparent’s name or email address?
Even if a coparent has a good relationship with a stepparent, receiving emails from the stepparent under the coparent’s name is an invitation for confusion. If a coparent does not have a good relationship with a stepparent and is receiving emails from them, the coparent may feel manipulated, doubly misunderstood, and mistreated. The coparent could call them out and respond, “You’ve never spoken or written like that before, and I don’t believe you wrote it. Tell X to mind their own business.” However, this is likely to escalate conflict with the coparent and damage the relationship with the stepparent. Instead, a Neutral Coparent could choose a response such as this: “I am confused. Your email appears to have come from your account, but seems to have been written by your partner/spouse. That makes me uncomfortable. I prefer that you and I communicate about the kids. Can we agree that any communication about the kids will be only between you and me?”
If the coparent does not accept the conciliatory request, the Neutral Coparent could follow up by writing something like, “I’m disappointed that we can’t reach an agreement that only you and I will email about the kids. Emails from X are unwelcomed, and I will not respond to them.” However, if the email appears to be written by someone else (often attorneys or consultants) from the parent’s email address, the neutral approach is to treat it as though it is from the parent. The email will likely conform to communication rules, so who sent it is not as important. Obviously, the parent is responsible for anything sent that represents their communication.
Responding as a Neutral Coparent will neither escalate conflict nor yield to something that you find unacceptable. Moreover, if the coparent’s new partner is not supposed to have access to that email, then you leave the issue for your coparent to address, rather than inserting yourself into their communication, an action likely to be unwelcomed.