Divorce is generally adversarial in nature.
Even when two spouses decide a divorce is best, things can change and one party can begin to act purely out of anger and hurt.
It’s important that you protect yourself by knowing how to communicate with your soon-to-be ex-spouse during the course of the divorce.
Where Possible, Use Email and Text
Although it may seem less personal, email and text can be very useful in divorce cases. It enables you to have documentation about what was said during a conversation. This eliminates a lot of the “he said, she said.” Most cell phones have a way for you to save your text messages. For emails, you can print them out. Try to include the header information because this shows email addresses and IP addresses.
Immediate Replies Aren’t Required
At some point, we’ve all said something in the heat of the moment. What can be simply an embarrassing moment that requires an apology can cause you big trouble in the middle of a divorce. You do not need to respond immediately to any text, email, voice mail, or return a phone call. Rather, give yourself an appropriate amount of time to think through what you should say. This also give you time to cool off if the conversation is emotional or upsetting.
Stick to the Issues
People have specific reasons why they get divorced. Even in divorces that are considered no-fault, divorcing spouses have a way of bringing up every perceived misdeed of the past in order to pick a fight. When you are talking with your former spouse in person, on the phone, through text, or through email it is extremely important that you stick to the topic at hand. Do not talk about things you believe that they did wrong in the marriage. Do not address any allegations that they make against you that they believe caused the divorce. If the topic is the pick-up and drop off of minor children, only discuss that. You can say politely that you are only willing to discuss the issue that initially started the conversation. No matter how many times they bring up something hurtful and no regardless of whether you are upset, keep the conversation focused solely on the actual issues.
Boundaries Are Important
While you may share a minor child with your former spouse, you are entitled to set boundaries in your newly defined relationship and in your life. This means that your former spouse isn’t entitled to know what you do at night during your own time. They do not need every piece of information about your life. One simple boundary that you can start with is by politely informing your former spouse that you will not necessarily have the time to respond right away to any phone calls, voice mails, emails, or text messages. Let the other person know that you will respond to appropriate issues when you have the time to do so. You are under no pressure to respond right away. Again, this is important because you should take the time to consider your response.
Your Children Should Not Be Messengers or Spies
Your children had no part in the divorce and that’s the way it should remain. Do not use your children as messengers to relay a message to your former spouse. Also, you should not ask them what goes on in the other parent’s home. When you use your children as messengers and spies, you put them in the middle of an adult situation. Children should not be asked to deal with the issues of adults. If your child tries to relay a message to you, thank them and then contact the other party and let them know that next time they should contact you and not use the child as a messenger.
Ask Yourself, “What Would the Judge Think?”
Before, during, and even after a divorce that involves minor children, you should ask yourself a very important question before you say anything to your former spouse. What would the judge think? It’s important that you begin to think about how you communicate because what you say or do can end up being used as evidence during the divorce or it could be used during a custody modification. When you get ready to respond, think about what you’re going to say and ask yourself what a judge might say or think about it.
Questions about Divorce and Communication?
If you’re considering divorce, you should begin to think about communication now. Contact Petrelli Previtera. We are lawyers who specialize in high net-worth divorce cases. We’re here to help. Call us today at 215-523-6900.