What are the risk of texting during a divorce? Should former spouses and co-parents text each other while the process of a divorce is underway?
The first and most important concept to remember in all communications, including texts, is communications in any form are evidence. You should begin your divorce with this clear understanding in mind. Throughout the course of the divorce process your emotions are often going to be raw. There are good days, not so good days and thoroughly frustrating and aggravating days. Many people tend to communicate with fewer “filters” when they are emotionally upset. This is never a good idea during a divorce.
The risk of texting during a divorce needs to be clear in your mind: anything and everything you text can and will be used against you, or manipulated to paint you in one light or another. This is especially true when kids are involved.
The Judge in your case is evaluating your ability to be an effective parent. If you and your former spouse intend to share parenting time the Judge will be evaluating your ability to effectively communicate and protect your child’s best interests. A volley of angry, vitriolic texts will not present you in a positive light and can absolutely have an effect upon child custody and parenting time. It is easy for opposing counsel to suggest your anger and hostility “projects” onto your kids increasing the likelihood of issues in their relationship with the other parent.
Another risk of texting during a divorce is the complete lack of context. It is generally accepted that most communication is non-verbal including tone, volume, body language and facial expressions. A text is one and only aspect of a communication: words. Words without context can be interpreted to have many meanings, depending upon the reader’s own filters and perceptions. There have been many cases of alleged domestic violence and emergency protective orders based (in large part) on the evidence of written communications. Allegations of domestic violence or a restraining order will absolutely impact all aspects of a divorce from child custody and parenting time to spousal support and property division.
The risk of texting during a divorce is substantial. The best policy may be not to text at all. This is impractical for most people. Therefore, it is paramount not to text or communicate in any written medium such as social media and e-mail when you are angry or upset. Make sure you are in as neutral an emotional state as possible and try writing out what you want to say on a scratch pad before creating and sending any texts.