Dance Like No One is Watching; Write Emails Like They Will be Read Aloud in Court One Day

Family law trials and arbitration consist of a great deal of evidence. Evidence can range from financial statements to photographs, but I would say almost 9 times out of 10 you can rest assured that at least one text message or email will be introduced. This can be damning.

I cannot tell you the number of times I have seen a judge cringe over a particularly insulting text between a mom and a child’s teacher, or a rancid email arguing over finances between a newly separated husband and wife. This can make even the kindest of people look awful to a judge.

When you’re involved in a domestic dispute, assume your text messages, emails, and social media posts will be scoured and painfully poured over to find even the slightest misstep. I.e. assume every single email, text message, and social media post will be read by a judge. As my dad would say, would your Sunday School teacher approve? Pause before you press send or post online.

What does that mean? Be mindful of the communications you’re sending out. I often recommend that if a particular topic is especially incendiary, give it a few hours before responding (unless it is an emergency). When responding, we always recommend what we refer to as the BIFF approach, which was coined by Bill Eddy, LCSW, JD:

B: Brief. Keep it short and to the point.

I: Informative. Only communicate the necessary information. Provide the necessary details.

F: Friendly. Do you have to be over the top nice and best buds? No, but don’t be rude, accusatory, or unkind.

F: Firm. Be clear in the message you are getting across. This does not mean to be demanding, but straightforward.

This also means you need to be considerate of anything you’re posting on social media. Here is a short list of do NOT’s:

  1. Do not discuss your case on social media.
  2. Do not trash your partner on social media.
  3. Do not delete evidence. If it’s out there, it’s out there, and you do not want to be seen as dishonest by deleting it.

It may even be wise to take some time off social media altogether pending the final resolution of your domestic matter. This is truly the best way to avoid scrutiny.

Finally, full credit must be given to the title of this blog—thank you, Alisha.

To schedule a consultation with Rachel or another member of TBLG, please call us at 704-347-0110, and to read more from Bill Eddy, check out “BIFF: Quick Responses to High-Conflict People.”

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