Emails, texts and social networking

Even those of us who are in the over 40 age category have latched onto electronic communications. We go on vacation and keep up with what’s happening at home through Facebook, and let everyone know every stop that we are making along the way. And text messages — they are so easy, and a great way to make a really pithy comment when you are thinking about it. This new ease of communication should make communicating during and after a divorce so much clearer, right?

Actually, no.

The ease of communications means that with the tap of a keystroke we can communicate faster, unfortunately faster than our brain catches up with whether we SHOULD be sending those nasty grams. In the old days, if you sent a letter by mail, you usually had to wait until the next day to put it in the mailbox, and could pull back a hasty and ill-advised letter. However, when you are communicating with an ex-spouse, especially if feelings are running high, you should assume that every email, every text and every post that you make will end up in court being read to a judge. Use electronic communication just as if you were writing a formal letter outlining your position.

The good part about electronic communication is that it is a much more neutral way to communicate logistics. A short, businesslike email or text saying when you will pick up the child after the soccer practice is great. It avoids a potential confrontation in person or over the phone, and it communicates the information that is needed to be communicated in a timely manner.

Be aware that when you put out information on social networking, there is a high probability that your spouse or your child is going to find out the information. I have had several clients come in to see me about a divorce after their spouse posted information and pictures about a party they went to, and the person they hooked up with, and details of that encounter that no one wants to know about. No matter how many privacy settings you think you have established, assume that everything you vent about is going to be repeated or pointed out in a way that will maximize your embarrassment, and potentially show that you are impulsive and don’t think through the impact that learning this information will have on your children.

Because of the availability of sending communications so quickly, I am cautious about electronic media and how you use it. Don’t forget about low tech communications, either, however. Writing that nasty letter or admitting to all your real and imagined sins to your spouse in a desperate attempt to reconcile will be saved and passed on as evidence.

All this sound paranoid? Just remember, paranoia is a heightened sense of awareness.