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After divorce, digital technology can both help and hurt

Following a contested divorce, or even a relatively peaceful split, one of the most difficult tasks for ex-spouses is effectively communicating about their children, their home, financial matters, or anything else that may come up. If talking to an ex-spouse is difficult, technology such as email, texting, or even social media websites like Facebook can make communicating after a divorce much less stressful. However, while these new technologies seem highly beneficial, they may do more harm than good.

For example, anything you say to your ex in the heat of the moment is generally left there, in that moment. But if you say the same thing via a text or email, that statement now exists forever, and it can be used against you in family court. In addition, your ex may not be the only person with access to those accounts, so keep in mind that a child or other family member may read what you are writing.

One shortcoming of digital communication is the missing visual component. Of course, the other person’s words are the most important part of a conversation. However, their visual cues – their tone of voice and body language – often says a lot, too. Without those cues, we may misread or misunderstand a message, often projecting our own emotions and opinions into the other person’s words.

The efficiency of texts or email can be both a benefit and a burden. In the former, it allows you the time to carefully draft a message that says exactly what you want it to say. And in the latter, it allows you to quickly vent your feelings and hit send before contemplating how your ex may interpret the message. This could result in a major breakdown of communication, both digital and actual, so ensure that you are taking the time to breathe before hitting send.

Source: The Huffington Post, “Ex-Texting,” Judy Corcoran and Julie A. Ross, Sept. 2, 2011

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