Monday, March 4, 2013

Communicate With Caution

     I am often astonished in matters involving legal decision making, and parenting time, to find out that there is a series of text or email exchanges between the parties which contain abusive or derogatory comments about the other parent.  I suppose that people can be thoughtless in their communications, but you must be aware that any such exchange stands a good chance of being presented as evidence in your parenting time evidentiary hearing.

     Once you are before a family court Judge, and any parenting time orders are entered, anticipate that you will be required to communicate by email exchanges, and directed to be civil, and to confine the email to either the particulars of the exchange of the children, or as information to the other parent about the latest parenting time.  The Judge will let you know that he or she anticipates that if difficulties arise, that the email thread will be presented, and the Judge will be looking to determine whether or not you have complied with those orders.

     You should make it a practice to communicate with the other parent by email, so everything is in writing, and thus documented.  Whether it is your initial email to the other parent, or your reply to an email you should always, always, always, draft it, then go away from it for a while, and come back to read it again.  We are all human, and it is easy to write something that you do not really mean, or that should be stated in a different way.  Always assume that what you email to the other parent will someday be presented to the Judge, either by opposing counsel, trying to demonstrate how unreasonable you are being, or by your own attorney, to demonstrate the opposite.

     So, communicate with caution.  Be aware of how your communication will sound weeks or months from now, in the heat of an evidentiary hearing.  Caution now will translate into more positive results in the future.

Posted by Harry J. Lenaburg, Esq.
Law firm of Jessica M. Cotter, P.L.L.C.

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