Category: fault

Don’t Email (or Text, Facebook, or Tweet) While Angry!

Don’t Email (or Text, Facebook, or Tweet) While Angry!

We’ve all been there.  You get an email or text message that really makes you angry and you want nothing more than to fire right back.  After all this person has just insulted you, or hurt you, or even threatened you.  That fight or flight instinct kicks and before you know it you have typed out a scathing reply that cuts the sender to the quick, possibly even questioning his/her parentage and/or intelligence.  Before you hit the “send” button, stop and think.

We have previously discussed how things you post online or share electronically can be used against you in a divorce and custody case.  It is even more common for emails and text messages to be used in divorce and custody proceedings.  Oftentimes, those messages are written in the heat of the moment and things are said (typed?) before the writer has given much thought or much less tried to cool down.  It creates some cognitive dissonance for a judge when someone is trying to portray themselves as a paragon of moral virtue and the opposing attorney has copies of emails and text messages in which that person is swearing like a drunken sailor.

Other problems arise when written communication becomes the only means of communicating between parents.  As this article points out, the nuance of the English language is lost in written communication.  You lose tone of voice, a great deal of context and most definitely body language, so it is imperative to be clear in your communications to avoid mixed signals.  I represented a father one time and he and the mother of his children insisted on only communicating by text message.  It was terrible.  These two could not get along to save their lives and if anything could be misconstrued it was going to be.  I begged him to pick up the phone and call her on occasion before flying off the handle.  It is no telling how much each of them spent on attorney fees simply because they refused to communicate effectively.

Finally, these messages often wind up containing very damning evidence that can totally torpedo your case.  Why give your opponent the ammunition?  I have had cases where people admitted to affairs, drug use, theft, abuse, and abandonment of their children in texts and emails.

Before you hit the send button, use the same test used by the Office’s Dwight Shrute.  Stop and think.  Take a deep breath.  Ask yourself some questions.  Would you want this read in court?  Would your attorney advise you to send this message?  How is this going to help you and your children in the long run?  Remember don’t type angry.

Photo courtesy of RA Torsten Kellotat

Is My Spouse Spying On Me?

Is My Spouse Spying On Me?

Probably.  If you are in the middle of a divorce or custody case, you should at least assume you are being watched to prevent you from doing anything you would not later want used against you in court.  What about actual spying?  The fact is, it happens all the time in these cases.  You may feel like it is tinfoil hat type stuff reserved for people with paranoia, but over the years I have seen this happen over and over again.

In one particularly hostile case, we hired a private investigator to inspect a client’s house.  He found enough stuff to equip James Bond.  There were cameras hidden in the house, taps on the phone lines and even a recorder hidden underneath her house.  The husband, who was living a few miles away at his mothers, would go over to the house when he knew she was gone and retrieve the tapes from under the house.  It was crazy.

In another case the husband “just happened” to show up at the same place as his wife.  He would even sometimes send her text messages that obviously showed he knew where she was.  This was unnerving to say the least.  It turns out he had a tracker on her car as well as tracking software on her phone.

So how do you know if your spouse is spying on you?

  • The first thing is assume that your spouse is spying and behave accordingly.
  • Watch out for strange changes in behavior like “coincidentally” being at the same place you are.
  • Listen for clues in texts and conversations that your spouse has been watching you.  People often are not that smart and many times tell on themselves.
  • Does your phone or computer start acting strange?  Is it suddenly running slower or do there appear to be new programs that you do not recognize?
  • Does the home phone make an odd buzzing or clicking noise?
  • Has your spouse suddenly started buying things for the house?  Cameras and microphones can be hid in numerous places, e.g. new furniture, knick-knacks, picture frames, etc.  I knew a private investigator who carried a recorder that was built into a pen to record conversations.
  • Do you share an iTunes account?  If so, you can track anyone else who shares that account with the Find My iPhone App.  There are similar methods with Android phones and there are other apps specifically designed to track people that can be surreptitiously installed on someone’s phone.

So what do you do if you think your spouse is spying on you?  It usually involves hiring someone to check things out.  Often a private investigator or other security consultant can inspect a home or car for bugs or other electronic devices.  A computer expert can scan your computer and hand-held devices for malicious software.  Also check the credit card bills and bank statements for unusual purchases.  Most of these types of devices are bought off of various websites or even Amazon.com.  The important thing is that if you suspect it is happening, do not ignore it.  Talk with your attorney and make a plan for it.  Remember, just because you are paranoid does not mean they are not following you.

Photo courtesy of Mike Mozart