With all of the acrimony that accompanies divorce and child custody proceedings, it only takes one seriously high-conflict personality to make both parties escalate to the point of madness. It’s normal and natural to want to defend yourself against false accusations, insults, and other demeaning attacks from your ex-partner. The temptation is hard to resist. Resist you must. Attempting to set the record straight for someone who is engaging simply for the sake of the fight is a wasted effort.
They don’t call them “email muscles” for nothing. The internet affords people a sense of safe distance that gives them the motivation to act out electronically in ways that they wouldn’t necessarily risk in person. Internet bullying is rising in significance and garnering serious attention all over the world. What you’re experiencing is no different. Involved in divorce and child custody matters, you can certainly expect to see an increased frequency from your angry ex. It can have substantial legal implications, making it critical to be very careful in both making a determination if a response is necessary and, if so, crafting a reply that will not undermine your child custody efforts. Once a conflict has been undertaken (divorce/child custody), you must scale back everything that you do and proceed with a “less is more” mindset. You should always be cognizant of how your email reply might be used against you. You need to transform yourself from a person with normal emotional reactions and normal defense features to a person who is uncommonly calm, cool, and collected. Every email reply should be prepared with a level of self-control that most of us are not likely used to keeping under the constant barrage of stressful situations.
Hostile emails may not warrant a reply
Read the emails you receive and learn the most important lesson of all: almost all hostile emails from the high-conflict ex-partner simply do not warrant a reply at all. Consider that it is possible that none require a reply. However, some folks will find a scintilla of information that is important and relevant to the children that warrant attention and a reply from you. In those situations, all of the hostility needs to be treated as if it were never written and received. You calmly craft a brief reply, devoid of emotion and judgment. Stick to the facts and be polite. Yes, be polite. Also, be prepared that your polite reply that stays on the topic of the children will be met with a more hostile email from your ex-partner, perhaps more than one. Simply file them away for potential future use in court. Also, remember why you’re saving them as they can be a double-check for you to never come off in writing as your hostile ex does under any circumstances. Save everything you receive via email from your hostile ex. They will demonstrate the difference between how you conduct yourself over matters that can directly impact the children versus how your ex chooses to communicate.
Avoid being emotional
When you are crafting your email reply, avoid being emotional or using emotionally charged language. You’ll find the “save to draft folder” option very helpful in this regard. Take time to calm yourself down. Come back after you’ve rediscovered the calm, rational person with you. Avoid the abusive language that has just been heaped upon you and replies succinctly only to the important matter that pertains to the children. Once your email is sent, it becomes a potential piece of evidence for the other side. Remember this!
Have a goal in mind before you write your email reply. What is it that you want the other person to do? How do you want the other person to act? Your reply shouldn’t address their hostility at all. Your email should be completely pre-meditated. You’ve determined your goal before you’ve written. You’ve kept it brief and on the topic that is important and related to the children. Your goal shouldn’t be to get her to stop treating you so poorly or acting in such a hostile manner. There are few things in life over which you’ll have less control.
Keep it brief
Keep your reply informative, unemotional, and non-judgmental. You are not writing a novel. You are not writing a short story. You are acknowledging the information relevant to the children and replying with appropriate information in the fewest words possible. Copy yourself (or blind copy yourself) on every email communication you send. I often suggest even blind copying a trusted third-party. Save it to the “Divorce” folder in your email. If an opportunity to present exhibits showing the difference in communication between the two of you, you will want to save all emails from him/her and your replies. Your email service or program should keep everything in date order and you should be able to search quickly through your vast expanse of documentation to print out whatever you may need for court.
During an agreement, the kinds of custody are also discussed. Physical custody and legal custody are two of the most common. The major types of agreements that can take place between the parents include joint custody, shared custody, and primary physical and split custody. During the agreement, the parents and the court can decide on which type of custody they want.
If you find yourself having problems responding in a calm manner, determining what to respond to, or needing help dealing with the emotional toll of emails attacking your personal life, a child custody coach can help you learn what to respond to and how to keep your emotions in check.