Communicating with others about your divorce: Part II

Earlier this week, we began a discussion about the dos and don’ts of divorce-related communication. Because a divorce or child custody dispute is a private matter, you shouldn’t feel obligated to tell everyone you know or to share more than you are comfortable with.

Who you tell, when you tell them and what you tell them are, for the most part, up to you. That being said, people are naturally curious and may ask a lot of questions – including seeking information that is none of their business. Therefore, it’s a good idea to set boundaries ahead of time and have a messaging strategy when it comes to telling others about your divorce.

In a recent Huffington Post column, family law attorney James J. Sexton recommends sharing only as much as you need to. To that end, he tells readers:

  • Don’t discuss your divorce at work
  • Choose a short “headline” for family and close friends that informs them of the divorce, the basic reasons for it and the expected timeline
  • When discussing the divorce with acquaintances, maintain a relatively positive focus and stay on message (not answering questions that may be too personal)
  • Keep your divorce news off of social media if at all possible

Sexton’s two final suggestions are ones that many divorcees fail to plan for. The first is to make sure that you control what your children hear about the divorce while also being as honest as possible. The kids need to know how the divorce will affect them, and may need to know why it is happening in order to emotionally process it. But they should not overhear you badmouthing their other parent. They should also not overhear you discussing things like the custody agreement until you are willing and ready to discuss it with them.

The last suggestion is to communicate verbally as much as possible during the divorce. Whatever gets put in writing could end up in court, including email and text message exchanges. You can better safeguard your own privacy by being selective about what is spoken and what gets written down.

Family law disputes are difficult enough without the added pressure of public opinion. Hopefully, these tips will help you manage your communications while maintaining a sense of privacy.

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