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Hi, I am Anna Troitschanski and I am an associate with Feldstein Family Law Group. Today I would like to talk to you about the dangers of improper communication between parties and the effect that it may have on potential or existing custody and access disputes.
We all find ourselves in situations where we lose control and say things that we do not mean. This is especially prevalent between couples who are dealing with a breakdown in their relationship. This is not surprising given the stress, frustration and emotional despair that often accompany parties during this difficult time of their lives.
Although improper communication between parties may have an explanation, you need to know that it is greatly frowned upon by the courts. More importantly, improper communication can have grave consequences for access and custody disputes, especially if it is recorded in writing.
The goal of any co-parenting arrangement is the requirement for both parties to communicate with each other in a proper and respectful manner. If you send text messages, emails or letters that are abrasive, rude and uncooperative or even abusive, you are essentially putting evidence before the court as to why joint custody should not be an option. Even worse, some of your comments may lead a judge to believe that supervised access should be in place for fear that your behavior may impact the children’s best interest and therefore requires monitoring.
Ways to Prevent This
Here are some tips to prevent improper communication from happening in the first place.
- Limit your correspondences to the issues at hand. Always target the issue at hand; do not target the opposing party personally.
- If a verbal debate becomes heated, walk away and continue it at another time.
- If you are upset, sleep on it. Do not rush to respond to an email, text message or letter. It is in the heat of the moment that we say things that are out of character. Draft a response and review it the following day. Once you have had time to cool off and think with a clear head, then press the “Send” button.
- If your draft email, letter or text message doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t!!! Have an impartial party review it before you send it out or request that your lawyer advise you on the content.
These simple tips may prevent you from embarrassment before the court, and more importantly, may prevent you from losing a joint custody claim or having to deal with supervised access.
So the next time you think about sending out a nasty text message, keep in mind that the immediate gratification of “letting off steam” may cost you more than just a phone bill.