Divorce can be a complicated, emotional process. The lack of effective communication usually plays a part in the eventual decision. Once the process begins, it may become even more difficult. Here are some ties for communicating during divorce.
One of the best ways to avoid sparking new arguments is to avoid situations that can lead to heated arguments, especially when one or both of your are around your children. Email is an excellent way to limit the potential for an argument and potential confrontation. But there are a few things to keep in mind when you’re communicating during divorce.
Remember that most of our communication is actually done non-verbally. We sometimes alter the way we say things based on the visible feedback receive. Email doesn’t provide for that opportunity to read the other person’s body language. It’s easy to misinterpret, or even misunderstand, what the person intended to say. It’s best to be concise and focused on the facts. Remember, you’re creating a record and what you say, as well as how you say it, can be reproduced in court. Try to treat the other person with respect.
A great benefit of using email is that you keep your children out of the middle. Anytime you’re communicating during divorce, you need to avoid using a child as “the messenger.” This puts your child in an uncomfortable position. It can also be viewed as manipulative by the judge. Remember that your child loves both of you and that his/her world is being equally impacted by this decision. In most cases, the last thing your child wants is to have to pass along information, comments or other items which may cause an emotional outburst by the person receiving the information. Divorce is an adult situation. Try as best you can to keep it between the adults.
It’s a good idea to maintain a copy of the emails you send and receive. It’s not difficult to alter the text of an email or a date/time. By keeping your own version, you have proof of the original message.
You may find that it’s better to limit the number of emails you send to once a day. You don’t want to get into a prolonged e-argument. Keep your emails brief and to the point. Try to avoid sending messages that can appear to threaten, intimidate or otherwise provide ammunition that can eventually be used against you. Remember that email comments can be taken out of context either by your spouse or your spouse’s divorce lawyer.
Before you hit send, take a breather. You may want to let some time lapse between the typing and eventually sending the email. Emotions will be difficult to manage at various times throughout the divorce process. Sometimes it’s better to cool off and make some edits once you’ve had time to re-read your comments. The adage, “think before you speak” can be adjusted to “think before you send.” If possible, you may want a trusted friend to read your email and give some feedback. The last thing you want to do is to say something that causes additional legal skirmishes and the bills that go along with unnecessary motions and proceedings, all due to a misunderstanding. Save your available funds for the battles that matter.
The above advice also covers text messages. There are various ways to avoid face-to-face arguments. Using texts and emails can be extremely helpful when communicating during divorce. Again, let me stress the point that all of this information can be reproduced. Make sure you think before you send.
Dennis Burke is a seasoned, Louisville divorce attorney. If you’re thinking about filing for divorce, let Dennis counsel you on your rights. He’ll explain what can be expected during the divorce process in Jefferson County Family Law Courts, and in the surrounding counties. You’ll need and experienced legal advocate on your side. For a confidential discussion of what you need to do to prepare to file divorce, call to set up an appointment. His office number is (502) 262-4984.