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Unfortunately, You Can’t Dot.com The Ugly Out Of Divorce For The Kid

November 26, 2012
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Unfortunately, You Can’t Dot.com The Ugly Out Of Divorce For The Kid
Pamela Paul writes in The New York Times of how divorced parents are using the Internet so they won’t be so verbally argumentative or so argumentative in front of their kids:

“Normally, when you break up with someone, you don’t have to see them constantly,” Ms. McGillivray said. “Now I have to see my ex and his current fiancée several times a week. He’ll be a presence in my life for at least 17 more years, and probably more than that.”

When they see each other in person, she said, they inevitably quarrel. And so she keeps him at a safe electronic remove. “When it comes to child arrangements,” she said, “we typically communicate via e-mail. Schedules, drop-offs, pickups, sick-day care: it’s all done electronically. Neither of us wants to argue in front of our daughter, but as much as we would want to avoid it, it would happen.”

It’s not surprising that most people don’t see eye-to-eye with the person they left seething on a couples therapist’s sofa. If you didn’t get along with someone well enough to stay married, chances are you will probably disagree after you divorce.

“People don’t want to talk to their exes because just the sound of their voice is irritating,” said Randy Kessler, chair of the American Bar Association’s Family Law Section and a matrimonial lawyer in Atlanta. “But they can e-mail. They can share an online calendar. They can use any number of resources on the Internet. There are even divorce apps.”

E-mail and texting alone have practically revolutionized postdivorce family relationships. “E-mail absolutely takes away the in-your-face aggravation and emotional side of joint custody,” said Lubov Stark, a divorce lawyer on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. “You just write, ‘I want to pick up Kimmy at 5, but I’m running late and will be there at 6.’ It’s the best thing ever.”

When Zeita Jones, a 39-year-old nurse in Los Angeles, divorced her husband of 15 years in 2010, dealing with her ex while shuffling their three children every week was difficult. “When emotions were running high at the beginning, everything was e-mail and text,” Ms. Jones said. “It’s a lot easier not hearing the voice. It’s detached.”

For Cheryl Wu, a 34-year-old Manhattan pediatrician, nailing down details on a Google calendar makes all the difference. First, she and her ex-husband, who have joint legal custody (she has primary physical custody) of their 5-year-old son, will e-mail each other possible arrangements until they reach a point of agreement. Once there, it goes into the mutual calendar. Since the two separated in 2010, they have only had to talk face-to-face two or three times.

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