Communicating While Divorcing: The benefits of using email

Parties who are divorcing often can benefit by using email. Since most people have their email on their cell phone, and no longer have to rely on email on their computer, email allows parties to communicate instantly. Text messaging also offers these benefits. For purposes of this discussion, we simply will discuss email. Keep in mind that if you want to have joint legal custody of your child you cannot rely exclusively on email. For joint legal custody to work, parents must be able to speak to each other on the phone and/or in person.

One of the obvious benefits of email is that it allows you to keep your distance from the other party. If you are angry and disgusted with them, not having to see them or hear their voice is a good thing. Even if you are getting along well, email allows you to keep your distance so that you do not upset each other. In the most tense parts of a divorce, such as immediately after separation or right before trial, this might be wise to do.

Another benefit of email is that it provides a written record of what was said. For those parties who are on the receiving end of verbal or psychological abuse, having written evidence will help make your case in court. More importantly, since everything will be in writing the other party may be far less likely to engage in any threatening or abusing behavior.

For those parties who have falsely been accused of being verbally or psychologically abusive, a written record will help prove their case in court. It provides a level of protection against false accusations. However, it always is difficult to prove a negative.

Another significant benefit for anyone using email rather than calling is that email allows you the opportunity to chose your words carefully. Too often email is a tool used in haste. This is very unfortunate. Email offers the author the ability to use their time wisely and wait to send an email. So if you are upset you can write an email and then wait a day to send it. Sometimes this can make a big difference. Once you cool off or learn more facts, you might not think it a good idea to send that email you wrote after learning bad news.

Probably the most famous story illustrating this practice is one about Abraham Lincoln.

On July 1863 the Union Army had won the Battle of Gettysburg. After the battle the defeated Confederate Army moved south to get back to the protection of Confederate territory. Union General George Meade did not pursue the Confederates aggressively. Lincoln believed that Meade should pursue Lee aggressively in order to attack and annihilate the Confederate Army before they escaped. Needless to say, Lincoln was upset.

On July 14 Lincoln wrote a scathing letter to Meade, essentially telling him that he blew an opportunity to end the War. But, Lincoln never sent the letter to Meade. He kept it in his desk. Apparently, the act of writing it served its purpose; allowing Lincoln get out what he had to say without beating up the first general to win the Union a major victory.

Now Lincoln never divorced. If he had and if he would have been so wise in that situation, we do not know. But this story still strikes me as good advice.

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