Monitored communication during divorce can play a key role in reducing costs and efficiently working towards a settlement. However, for some couples, communication through ordinary methods (i.e. in person or over the phone) is simply impossible due to conflict.
Tools specifically designed to help aid communication during divorce can help with these issues, but how do couples determine which tools they should use? Which tools are best and under what circumstances?
There are many articles explaining the benefits of tools like Talking Parents and OurFamilyWizard, both of which are excellent tools for communication when co-parenting. However, there are times when communication during divorce is simply too tricky or contentious, and additional communication assistance is required. This is when the parties involved may want to use a “monitored” communication system like Civil Communicator.
With a “monitored account,” Civil Communicator review specialists read and review all communications between parties. The review specialists ensure that the communication meets the guidelines, and either sends the message as written, edits the message and then sends it, or rejects the message outright. In particularly contentious child custody cases, these communication tools can help reduce hostile communication so that both parties can reach an agreement.
Unmonitored vs. Monitored communication during divorce
Both Talking Parents and OurFamilyWizard allow for broad communication between divorcing couples and provide some technical advantages. For example, these services can record conversations while allowing parties to schedule events. OurFamilyWizard even has a “ToneMeter™” that automatically checks the tone in a message.
The ToneMeter uses a computer system to determine whether the tone in a message is emotionally charged. In contrast, the “monitored” accounts at Civil Communicator have real review specialists looking at every bit of communication to determine whether it is appropriate. These specialists read every message and ensure that its content is appropriate.
When you May Want to Use One Product Over Another
“Monitored” communication is more expensive than unmonitored communication. Civil Communicator offers plans from $29.50 to $49.50 per month, whereas Talking Parents offers plans from $0.00 to $4.99. My Family Wizard costs around $99.00 per year, or about 8.00-10.00 per month. However, there are cases where monitored communication is worth the money.
When you May Want to Use Monitored Communication during divorce
If you are or represent the protected party to a restraining order, you may want to investigate whether monitored communication during divorce can help facilitate a safe environment for you or your client. Monitored communication using Civil Communicator is often very brief and sticks to just the brass tacks of communication during divorce. It allows the parties to say things such as “Our son got a cold today”, whereas a diatribe about how the son got a cold and how it is the other parent’s fault would be blocked.
In addition to being useful for the protected party, Civil Communicator can often be an excellent tool for the restrained party. In some instances, clients need to protect themselves from themselves. Clients who cannot help but send messages that are inappropriate, emotionally charged, or harassing may want to have their communications monitored.
With monitored communication, these clients can keep themselves out of trouble by having a system that completely prohibits them from sending any messages that would be rejected. Attorneys representing such clients may feel that it is in their own client’s best interest (and to their tactical, legal advantage) to have their communications monitored. Poor communication during divorce could have devastating effects.
When you May Not Want to Use Monitored Communication during divorce
There are some downsides to monitored communication during divorce, the most obvious of which is cost. As explained above, the monthly charge for monitored communication is higher. Because of this, if monitored communication is unnecessary, and the parties can communicate on their own, then monitored communication may not make sense.
Another downside of monitored communication is the level at which it can be monitored. Under some circumstances, the monitoring is so prohibitive that communication is reduced to just the most basic information. Although some parents need such extreme supervision, some do not, and the inability to communicate anything of substance can have an adverse effect.
Because of the strict monitoring, it can be difficult for couples to work on getting better at communicating with one another. Instead of learning the skills themselves or engaging in conversations that may have long-term benefits, the system prohibits many of these communications, and the parties continue to have a reasonably sterile conversation with one another.
Advice for Which System to Choose and When
Unless there are exigent circumstances, Griffiths Law typically advises its client to use unmonitored communication at first because it is cheaper and less restrictive. However, in cases where communication between the parents only serves to continue driving a wedge between them, monitored communication during divorce may be appropriate. Clients and practitioners should accordingly know when and how to use the various communication tools available to clients.
Christopher Griffiths is a Shareholder at Griffiths Law, a law firm dedicated to family law and civil litigation matters. The firm represents clients in divorce and related domestic relations matters in Denver and across Colorado. Christopher has written for numerous publications including the Colorado Lawyer, Law Week Colorado, ColoradoBiz Magazine, among others. He was won awards for work as an attorney including Super Lawyers’ Rising Star award consecutively since 2017. www.griffithslawpc.com