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Divorce & Family Law This forum is for discussing any of the legal issues involved in your divorce.

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Old 01-09-2010, 10:47 AM
#1StepMom #1StepMom is offline
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Default "Written Communication Only" Clause In Court Order

I'm wondering if any of you were successful in having a "written communication only" type of clause put into your court order.

My husband has always communicated with his son's mother in writing, as she had a tendency to twist his words and claim he agreed to things he did not agree to.

In addition to that, we never trusted her verbal word, as she would always claim otherwise when it came down to the issue, and back out of verbal agreements on a whim.

One mediator suggested a communication journal, which worked quite well, but quickly became a "bash-book" as my stepson's mom could not keep her entries child-specific. Another mediator (specializing in high-conflict cases) threw the communication book out and suggested more direct communication - verbal with written confirmations of agreements. This did not work so well, as again, my stepson's mother would claim she never agreed to things that she did agree to verbally, and so my husband had no choice but to refuse to communicate in any way that did not document every single word. For several years, communication was only via e-mail. This worked wonderfully... until about 2 months ago.

Two months ago, my stepson's mom demanded only verbal communication or none at all. She began calling insescently, leaving lenghty messages on our answering machine while my husband and I were at work. She refused to send a single email, as "direct communication is her preference." (Suddenly, she believes that email is not a form of direct communication.)

We let this go for a while, with my husband replying only by email, restating the facts of the information as she communicated them in her voicemails, and providing his response.

After almost every response came another voicemail message starting with... "you did not understand what I said..." and her restating her information, "to clarify."

She consistantly contradicts herself. She says one thing, then calls back and leave a message claiming something else... on the same issue. Several of my husband's responses to her call out these inconsistancies. My husband asks that she provides a clear written response, as her voicemails contradict one another, but yet, she still prefers to leave at least 1 voicemail message per day, trying to explain herself.

Sadly, phone call recordings are inadmissable in court. (We spoke to a lawyer about this.) We believe that this is why she is refusing to communicate in writing... because with her voicemail messages, we don't have admissible proof of her ever saying or agreeing to anything.

I am wondering if there is any way to put a clause in the court order indicating that communication will only be in written form.

The problem is, the last time we tried to put this in the court order, the judge ordered the three of us to attend counselling to help with the communication between households. After separate intake meetings, the counsellor suggested that it would be best, given the situation, that she allow us to use preferred method of communication, written communication, while we allow her to use her preferred method, calling and leaving messages.

If anyone has any suggestions on how we could go about this, it would be greatly appreciated.

We really don't want to bring up another issue with the Court that will blow up in our faces... again.

Thank you!
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Old 01-09-2010, 11:35 AM
standing on the sidelines standing on the sidelines is offline
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sounds like she doesn't like the idea of having things written down so she cannot change the facts later when it suits her. To me you would have a good case, She has shown that she cannot remember what she has agreeded to.

Maybe your arguement could be that there is always some miscommunication with the messages (you gave it a try and it didn't work) and you feel that having things written down will help to clarify each others postion with no more misunderstandings and it would help both parties be more effective parents.
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Old 01-09-2010, 11:41 AM
dinkyface dinkyface is offline
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Yes, my BF's consent order indicates that communication should be via email, and limited to topics relating to the child. I think the ex wanted this because it promotes her false claims that he harasses. My BF wanted this because of the reasons you are indicating. However, there is also an agreement that each should have a contact phone # for the other.
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Old 01-09-2010, 12:33 PM
logicalvelocity logicalvelocity is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by standing on the sidelines View Post
sounds like she doesn't like the idea of having things written down so she cannot change the facts later when it suits her. To me you would have a good case, She has shown that she cannot remember what she has agreeded to.

Maybe your arguement could be that there is always some miscommunication with the messages (you gave it a try and it didn't work) and you feel that having things written down will help to clarify each others postion with no more misunderstandings and it would help both parties be more effective parents.
Agreed. If written communication between the parent's promote consistency to the child's best interest --It should not be too difficult to have a court order written communication such as a journal that travels with child or another option is Email/Text message. This position is supported by much case law.


lv
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Old 01-09-2010, 01:10 PM
billiechic billiechic is offline
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A restraining order was issued last week against my ex, with no direct or indirect communication towards me. I don't know if that would include written communication, but I put a communication book into my daughter's bag yesterday. He is not completely literate, being an immigrant, but it is the only way we might be able to work things through for her.

I can't see why the court wouldn't order written communication for you. Especially given the history. I would try again.
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Old 01-09-2010, 02:50 PM
#1StepMom #1StepMom is offline
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Thanks for your replies.

One of the lawyers we spoke to (in regards to other issues) couldn't overemphasize more the importance of keeping court documents short and to the point.

What major information, do you think, we should put in a claim for written communication? What should we leave out?
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Old 01-09-2010, 03:08 PM
billiechic billiechic is offline
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point form explanation of the ways you have attempted to communicate and why it hasn't worked.
eg: implemented communication via phone messages regarding issues limited to caretaking of child. Other party would agree to one thing then change decision in next message. Effective communication was not possible as there was no way of showing agreement or non-agreement.

Make sure you show what time period it was implemented and how long it was attempted. You need to show you have tried reasonable things and they have not worked.

I don't think it needs to be too detailed though. You aren't asking for anything unreasonable.
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Old 01-09-2010, 08:31 PM
independentgal independentgal is offline
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Our judge insisted on non-verbal communication due to the high conflict situation. He could see our phone calls, voice mails, conversations etc. were doing nothing to help our son's situation with both of us.

Another major factor was credibility. I was swearing he wasn't calling when he didn't show up, that he never requested access etc. My ex swore that he tried so hard to get a hold of me and left lots of voicemails(not one in truth). The judge wanted our future communication in writing so he could see who was telling the truth.

Our order says, All communication between the parties will be in writing by email only, unless there is an emergency involving the child, at which time a phone call is appropriate.

Both parties will exchange email addresses with each other for this purpose.



I would not recommend a communication book. My partner and his ex have one together, and it only comes with the children if she wants something. It is full of name-calling and irrelevant stuff. Pages can be ripped out and disappear altogether. Also, the kids are old enough to read the stuff as they are really who deliver the book.

I would not recommend texting between exes unless they get along exceptionally well. Texts cannot be printed unless you transcribe them and even then there is no proof.

It sounds like that woman's behavior is escalating to the point that I would be worried. What is her point exactly? Is she getting a thrill interacting with her ex because she has feelings for him, or is she trying to cover up her poor choices of words in her conversations with her ex?


Another thought is that no court can force him to interact with her in person, on the phone etc. If you choose to communicate with her only in writing by email that is your choice. He should write in an email that he will ONLY communicate with her by email format with regard to the child. He can tell her he will not respond to any voicemails or phone calls except in the case of an emergency. No one can force your ex to talk to her on the phone or in person.
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Old 01-09-2010, 09:32 PM
billiechic billiechic is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by independentgal View Post
He should write in an email that he will ONLY communicate with her by email format with regard to the child. He can tell her he will not respond to any voicemails or phone calls except in the case of an emergency.
If he doesn't answer the phone, how will he know if there is an emergency?

I do think you have a good idea though.
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Old 01-10-2010, 06:49 PM
independentgal independentgal is offline
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I mean that if she calls because it is an emergency, she would leave a voicemail presumably. He can always call her back then for more details.

For me an emergency would be a life threatening emergency involving abduction, an emergency room visit more serious than a few stitches, a serious car accident etc. Surely she can put aside her vendetta/obsession during a serious event like that.
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