When I was starting out as a lawyer (too many years ago to count), an opponent engaged in what I thought was outrageous behavior. I steamed about his behavior for days, determined to write a letter calling him out for all of his various misdeeds and describing all of his personality flaws. The managing partner of my firm, whom I was fortunate to call my mentor, gave me this advice. Write the letter. Describe all of his bad behavior. Call him all the names you want to. When you finish the letter, print it out, place it in a drawer in your desk, let it sit there for 24 hours, and then read the letter again. Then he winked, and said, if you still feel like sending the letter, go right ahead.
Divorce can be one of the most emotionally exhausting processes a person can go through. Your soon to be ex is the worst person in the world. He cheated. She lied. He’s alienating the children. She doesn’t pay maintenance promptly. He’s constantly asking to switch parenting time at the last minute. She doesn’t respond to texts, emails and voicemails. He bad mouths you to family and friends. Some of this might actually be true. You’re itching to set the record straight, and fire off that perfect text, email or Instagram post. But yet…
Remember the 24 hour rule. Remember that any written communication you send or post will be an exhibit at your deposition or hearing. One can be explained away. A three ring binder filled with texts and emails is far more difficult. You will be cross-examined about them. The court may even ask you questions about them. This is especially so if your hearing involves questions about custody or allocation of parental responsibilities and decision making. Your ability to foster the love and affection of your children for your soon to be ex, and your ability to place your children’s needs above your own, are often significant factors the court considers in parental responsibility decisions. Your texts and emails can impact how often you will see your children.
Not only will the court consider these written communications, but so will the professional who may have been retained to make parenting time recommendations to the court. He may try to determine if these written communications are just signs of a bad break up, or a pattern of harassment. That evaluation will carry significant weight with the court.
So, keep the long game front and center in your mind. Write that email or text, but don’t fill in the address line. Store it as a draft. Read it a day later, and ask yourself this one question: will this help me achieve the parenting time and decision making I want to have? If you think it will, go right ahead and send it. My guess is you won’t. Then contact a family lawyer in Colorado to discuss your next steps in the divorce process.
Thanks to Zweig Law, P.C. for their insight into family law and divorce.