There is no one-size-fits-all answer when it comes to communicating during a divorce. In some cases, any communication should be avoided. In others, it is absolutely necessary. In either of the extremes – and any situation in the middle – you need to exercise caution both while talking to your soon-to-be ex and when communicating with anyone other than your lawyer.
It is easier to avoid making mistakes than to repair the damage afterward. Avoid talking to your spouse if it is reasonable to do so. If it is not, here are some of the reminders that New York divorce lawyers give clients in the midst of a marital split.
Conversations are not private during divorce
Even though a divorce is not a criminal prosecution, anything you say can and will be used against you. You need to approach the divorce knowing that anything you say to your spouse, your child’s teacher, your social network, or virtually anyone other than your attorney, can resurface in court.
The most seemingly innocent statements may be used against you by your ex. It should go without saying, then, that less-than-innocent statements – those made out of frustration, anxiety, exhaustion, or any of the other negative feelings that divorce can draw out, can also be used to bolster your spouse’s case.
It is not just conversations with your spouse that matter
You need to be careful about conversations you have with your spouse, but that is just the beginning. Anything you say or do that can make it back your spouse can harm your case, so be cautious as a rule.
Consider the ways statements may be conveyed to your spouse. Your child might repeat you; your neighbor may bump into your ex at the grocery store; a friend of a friend may share something you posted on social media. Be conscious of the statements you make and even the photos you share by assuming they will, in turn, be shared with your ex.
Be extra cautious choosing words in front of children
When you have children with your ex-to-be, the stakes are higher, and the communications are trickier.
Conversations with your spouse are usually unavoidable if you are co-parenting children. Parental decisions cannot be put on hold until after the divorce is finalized, so you will need to communicate directly with your ex to arrange time-sharing and make decisions. Be courteous, even professional, in these exchanges but do not overshare, lose your temper, or say anything that could be used to paint you in a bad light later. Consider agreeing with your ex to communicate via one of the available parenting apps; Our Family Wizard, for example, offers a tone meter that will alert you if your message is not friendly.
When it comes to the children, remember that they are in a difficult position. Never bad-mouth the other parent; when possible, portray them in the best light. Do not rely on the children to communicate with their other parent on your behalf; deliver your messages yourself.
Trust your attorney to communicate for you
One of the often-overlooked benefits of hiring a lawyer is that your attorney has the ability to communicate on your behalf. This protects you in several ways.
- Your lawyer is not as emotionally involved in the process as you are so he is able to offer calm responses even in tense situations.
- Your lawyer is more likely to comprehend the legal implications that can arise in your communications and therefore help you avoid pitfalls.
- Directing communications to your lawyer while working out contentious topics will prevent your spouse or his or her attorney from putting pressure on you directly.
Your attorney can also guide you in best practices, since this may be your first and only divorce, but your divorce lawyer has helped clients down this road many times.
Receive expert guidance for your New York or New Jersey divorce
The actions you take right now can affect your life for years to come. Do not guess your way through the process.
The attorneys at Kantrowitz, Goldhamer & Graifman understand the questions you have when going through a divorce in Rockland County or Bergen County. Call to schedule a confidential consultation with a divorce lawyer today.