Thursday, February 28, 2013

Divorce and Technology

Was listening to NPR this morning and heard an interesting story.  Goggled it and found the following article by Melissa Knowles in Trending Now at   entitled, “Woman Dumps Boyfriend After Finding Him with Another Woman in Online Map”

“There is no good way to find out that your significant other is cheating on you, but one woman in Russia discovered her boyfriend's infidelity in a pretty surprising manner. Marina Voinova was looking up an address on Russia's version of Google Maps, Yandex Maps. She wanted to get a closer glimpse of a building using the street view feature. So she zoomed in, and there was her boyfriend Sasha with his arms around another woman.

Well, perhaps it was just an old picture that was taken before he and Marina were a couple. Only problem with that was that Marina and Sasha had been together for five years, and the Yandex Maps feature has only been around for three years. And, the plot thickens: Sasha is seen in the photograph with his arm in a cast, which he had to wear last summer.

When Sasha returned home, Marina asked him to type the address she had looked up into Yandex Maps. Once Sasha saw the incriminating image of himself, Marina said, his entire face changed color and he confessed everything.

Marina promptly broke up with her boyfriend after her discovery and said it would be "silly to blame the Web for my boyfriend's unfaithfulness." Now, instead of searching online maps, Marina is single and searching online dating sites.”

This relates to a recent conversation with an attorney friend.  He attends the Legal Tech show each year.  He advises me that more and more of the show deals with disclosure and production of online data.  Attorney now request this information and are given huge quantities of material that may be difficult for either side to decipher.  As a result contested divorces are now longer and more expensive. Parties are now checking email more.  Requesting all contents of hard drives.  Checking EZ Pass toll records.  It is amazing what people put on Facebook and accessing it is a no brainer. There does not seem to be a limit.  Perhaps this is another good reason to use divorce mediation!

As always, you can post any comment about this blog or Divorce Mediation, or just Mediation by following the directions at the right in the green column or at the bottom of this website. Learn more about mediation at CDM (270) 2/28/13


Thursday, February 21, 2013


Although a divorce professional, very few of my friends have gotten divorced.  One of the complaints that I have heard from couples in my professional capacity is when you divorce your spouse you divorce your friends. As a result, I have always made a very strong attempt to maintain my friendships with my divorced friends.  The irony of this is that I did not divorce them, they divorced me.  There are problems.  Married women don’t feel all that comfortable around newly available women.  Fear that divorce is contagious or he is a threat to his marriage.  If the friend is friend to both, there may be a confidentiality problem which has a chilling effect on conversation. 
I found an interesting article entitled “How to Be a Good Friend to Both Parties in a Divorce” Edited by Foxglove, Sondra C, Lillian May, Khizar Uzair Patel and 11 others.  You can find it at

The article recommends the following steps to help you be a friend to both.

1.            “Tell them both that you will not choose sides. Be honest with both of them, letting them know that you will accept all calls, emails, etc. from their ex, and will do your best to remain neutral. If there's a problem with that, you'll have to decide then, but don't pretend you're not in contact with the other spouse. Instead, it's best to be honest, but say, "I'm not taking sides. I'm Switzerland." This way neither will be surprised to find out you've heard from the other.
2.            If you do find yourself siding with one, limit contact with the other. Once you've heard both sides of the story (don't pre-judge!), if you realize you are more sympathetic to one (for example, adultery was involved, and you are siding with the spouse who didn't cheat), you will have to decide if you care to continue your friendship with the ex. Clearly, you will at least need to limit your contact to bare minimums to prevent yourself from lecturing or scolding the offender.

3.            Reveal no opinion on who is right or wrong. Unless you know for a fact that something is factual, do not take a position. Each person will have his or her own filter and will be playing back every incident through that filter. He said/she said is never accurate, both perceive the same incidents in completely different ways. Simply listen, be a sounding board, and "reflect" each spouse's feelings back to them.
o             Example: Him: "I just can't believe she'd do this to me, I mean, do you think she is having an affair? How could she?"
o             You: "I don't know, man. I can hear how upset you are, though. It's hard to believe it could go so wrong between you, isn't it?"
o             In other words, don't buy into his wild suppositions, despair, or anger. Simply be there for him.

4.            Expect anything you say to one to get back to the other. There's rarely a mutual and simultaneous parting of the ways. One spouse decides to leave the other. Sometimes it will seem sudden and without warning, but more likely, if the spouse being left is honest, the signs have been there - s/he's just been denying it. Your first compulsion will be to commiserate, and a lot of times, this takes the form of you assuring (for example) the sobbing partner that you can well believe her husband's acting this way - you've seen it with past girlfriends, or whatever. In her frustration, rage, and fear, she will use this validation of her very raw feelings to prove some point to her formerly dearly beloved, and eventually, you will suddenly find yourself on the pointy end of a finger as he accuses you of betraying his secrets.

5.            Resist answering emails from either of them. Although emails are quick and convenient, they're also impersonal and non-retractable. And they are in print. You don't want to put things in writing to either one of your friends right now; you just want to be a good friend. They can't see your sympathetic face, and they also can't put a tone of voice to it. They're going through a very tough time right now, and their nerves are on edge, rubbed raw with emotion - any little joke you make or bit of irony you add in an email is likely to rub them the wrong way, so don't compound an already tough problem by doing this. If you get an email, IM or text from them, call them back. All they need is to hear your voice. It'll help.
6.            If all else fails, detach from both for the duration. This is a last resort, to be taken only if you find yourself being taken to task a second or third time for "betraying a confidence," etc. Remembering the previous step, you must know that each of them is feeling pretty much like they've been chained to a pickup hitch and dragged for a while. Each of them is looking for any little thing they could seize upon to use as a scapegoat - something, anything, to blame for their present difficulties. If you find you present too tempting a target to them, make a polite exit. Tell them both, perhaps via email with each of them in the TO: line, that you love and value the friendship of each of them, but find yourself too far in the middle of things for your comfort. While you want to remain friends with both of them, you are no longer able to continue at the moment, that you want to be sure you do not intrude upon their private hell. Let them know that when it's all over, you'll be there for them both, and that they know how to reach you, but that for the time being, you want to give them the time and space they need to work out their issues once and for all - without you. Even if they try to get you involved, resist temptation.

7.            Listen. Anyone going through a divorce needs someone to listen and not judge. This involves silence when you may not want to be silent. This involves keeping the information you hear confidential even when you are asked by someone what the person said. This involves paying attention when you may have heard the same story more than once.
8.            Pray. Pray for both parties. It will be difficult for them to make it safely to the other side in one piece. Let them know you are praying for them, if they and you are religious.”

As always, you can post any comment about this blog or Divorce Mediation, or just Mediation by following the directions at the right in the green column or at the bottom of this website. Learn more about mediation at CDM (269) 2/21/13

Friday, February 8, 2013

Divorce and the Second Amendment

All the current discussions of violence control and the Second Amendment, reminds me of a divorce case I mediated years ago where the Husband asserted his Second Amendment rights.  The dispute concerned a parenting plan for the children.  The Mother had lost a brother in a gun accident. The Father owned guns and asserted his Second Amendment right to guns when the children were with him.  The Mother did not want their children to have parenting time with their Father if there were guns in his home. The Father had stored the guns in a locked “gun locker” but the Mother was not satisfied. If I recall the case was resolved when the Father agreed to not have the guns in his home when he was parenting the children in his home. 
As always, you can post any comment about this blog or Divorce Mediation, or just Mediation by following the directions at the right in the green column or at the bottom of this website. Learn more about mediation at CDM (269) 2/8/13