Emotions can run high during divorce and custody battles, but it is important not to resort to angry text messages or other communications with an opposing party. Not only can this create additional stress for both parties, it can have negative repercussions for the divorce or mediation process. Even when texts are not intentionally threatening, the lack of body language and other cues leaves room for misinterpretation. This can lead to one party being portrayed as combative or manipulative, causing them to lose credibility in their matter.
In order to avoid these mishaps, the High Conflict Institute recommends the BIFF Response: keep text messages brief, informative, friendly and firm. This method minimizes the possibility of messages being interpreted as hostile, especially when opposing parties feel most comfortable communicating by email or text message.
By limiting the length of a written communication, the chances of an angry exchange are decreased, as there is less material up for debate. Similarly, if a party refrains from communicating except to convey necessary information to a former spouse or partner, these communications will remain a useful way of keeping in touch while moving forward in the case without stirring up conflict. Maintaining a friendly tone is important particularly when facial and body language cues are lost, as in written communication. The purpose of remaining firm is also to prevent a back-and-forth dialogue that has the potential to become contentious. By following these guidelines one can avoid a potentially escalating argument that could derail divorce or custody negotiations.