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Sunday, November 25, 2012

Law - "Kramer.com vs. Kramer.com"

Fascinating article published Nov. 23rd by Pamela Paul of the NY Times. Some quotes:

MOST divorced couples would probably prefer not to see each other. Ever again. But when you share custody of your children, you have to assume a certain amount of face-to-face time amid the endless back-and-forthing. * * *

Unless, of course, it’s all done remotely. These days, the cool aloofness of technology is helping temper sticky emotional exchanges between former spouses. And for the most part, according to divorce lawyers and joint-custody bearers, handling the details via high tech is a serious upgrade. * * *

“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.” * * *

Former spouses aren’t the only parties to see a benefit in keeping their communiqués limited to the keyboard. Technology has become so commonplace in divorce arrangements that it has become part of the formal legal process, a development divorce lawyers and judges applaud. Many joint custody arrangements will stipulate weekly Skype sessions between parent and child while apart.

“It’s all set out in detail,” said Michael Kelly, a divorce lawyer and partner at Kelly, Fernandez & Karney in Los Angeles. “Your phone has to be available at certain hours, and if you don’t follow the rules, it’s a good way to lose custody.”

Parents are often required to buy a cellphone for their child, and call times are recorded to ensure an adequate amount of time. “That way, Mom can’t say, ‘O.K., you can talk to Daddy for two minutes, but that’s it,’ ” Mr. Kelly said. And with a parent calling children directly on their phone, there’s no possibility of a bitter intermediary exchange between parent and parent.

When relationships deteriorate to the point of renewed legal action, courts are increasingly ordering ex-couples to work out their differences via technology. A new crop of online custody tools has been specifically designed to keep sniping parents at bay.

Sherry Thomas, 56, shares physical custody of her two teenage sons with her ex-husband in Boca Raton, Fla. But since their divorce in 2005, the arrangement has been fraught with disagreement. When Ms. Thomas requested court-mandated parent counseling, the judge ordered the two to use an online tool called Our Family Wizard instead. Now, lawyers supervise e-mail exchanges between her and her ex, ensuring that each party responds to the other in a timely manner. All e-mails are time dated and tracked. Parents can create a shared expense log and receive automated notices and reminders about parental obligations. * * *

Having negotiations set in writing (whether it’s a text, a cellphone log or an online calendar) also creates a permanent record of who did and wrote what. If somebody misbehaves, it can become evidence.

The NYT story is followed by many comments. Several links are mentioned, including this one to Our Family Wizard.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on November 25, 2012 07:03 PM
Posted to General Law Related