No Major Decisions by Text


The digital age of divorce has its benefits.  My clients and I can keep in touch with each other 24/7 via text and email. We used to reserve most of our communications for business hours, and only those hours when I was not in court or meeting with someone else.

They all had my home phone number, in case of emergencies, but really only for emergencies.   Now, I get notifications on my smart phone all of the time.  Quick questions like, “Am I allowed to sign a lease on a new car?”  More urgent concerns like, “he says he can kick us out of the house tonight, because my name is not on the deed.”  And even short status updates: “just left the doctor’s office, everything is fine.”

Attorneys generally bill in 6 minute increments, one tenth of an hour at a time.  The time it takes me to read and reply to most of these texts is less than 6 minutes; so I don’t have to bill the client for my time.  A win-win for everyone – with the caveat that the client is not receiving my fully thought-out undivided attention.  Sometimes we need to schedule a meeting, or at least a phone call, for the more complicated questions.

A recent such text exchange went something like this:

Client: “We have been getting along well all weekend.”

Me:  “Great. Keep it that way.”

10 minutes later. . .

Client: “What is the difference between divorce & separation?”

Me: “We can talk about it on Monday.”

Client: “Maybe we should withdraw the divorce action.”

Me:  “No decisions by text.”

Granted, this is an extreme example, but the truth of the matter is that amicable divorces present their own unique challenges.  There are ways in which it is more difficult to divorce someone you like than someone you hate.  Clients frequently vacillate about whether they can stick it out, after all.

But, no one ever gets divorced by accident.  A good weekend together is not the same thing as a good marriage.  And, most importantly the pro/con analysis that is required in making these decisions takes the physical and mental presence of at least two rational adults.  Divorce is not something to be entered, or abandoned, lightly.

So, keep texting with your attorney, “his alimony check cleared,” “her mother dropped off the kids to me,”  “can we meet next Tuesday morning?”  But, always remember to use it for its intended purpose; quick exchange of information, not life-altering decisions.

What We Love:  The more information your attorney has, the better she is able to run your case for you.  Texting can help keep you both on the same page without expensive extra office visits.

Published by Sharon Oberst DeFala

Sharon Oberst DeFala has practiced low-impact safe divorce since 1992.

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