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John V. Coy

John Coy’s Answers

1 total

  • At what point is communication from an ex considered harassment?

    I have been separated since August 2010 and divorced since June 2012. I have physical custody and we have joint legal with me being the deciding decision maker. We separated on advice of a counselor we were seeing before the separation. I had b...

    John’s Answer

    In short, there is no way to draw a line to fit every case as to at what point contact or communication becomes harassment. Attorneys and Judges have practical experience in arguing and resolving these disputes, and the best advice for you would be to consult with an attorney in detail about your case.

    But to take a stab in the dark, given the very limited detail provided in your question, the opinion of you counselor is a professional opinion that the court may take seriously, if you were able to present that opinion to the court, though that again will depend up the details of your case, and of course, it will also depend upon whether the counselor would testify, given the fact that she provided counseling for both of you (probably she would not). As to the one example you provided of him "accusing you of not having food in the house" in response to a child posting what the child had for breakfast, that sounds annoying, but without more it certainly doesn't sound like harassment. Without context as to what exactly the child posted about her breakfast, and without the details of seeing the nature (tone) and the language, and the method (was he screaming at you in front of the child, or did he send a short terse text to your private phone, etc. etc. ) of the "accusation," there really isn't enough context to know how bad it is or isn't.

    However, you should focus on good record keeping, without involving the children in your record keeping process. Particularly, you should keep copies of the inappropriate communication in a way that preserves context, including the dates/times/method of the communication.

    Finally, whatever the level of discomfort with his demeaning and nasty communication, it needs to be considered in light of the available options you would be interested in pursuing to limit communication. There are protections that can be put in place to limit communication, if warranted. If you both are able to agree that you don't enjoy communicating with each other, you may be able to agree on a strategy to limit communication that you could submit to the court as a stipulated agreement to be added to a modified order, so that it would be enforceable, if that would provide sufficient recourse to adequately discourage the abusive communication that you indicate you are having to deal with.

    Finally, I am confused when you say that he never comes to see the kids in their environment. What do you mean? Since your question doesn't say otherwise, I would assume that he has standard statutory parent time, and therefore sees the children in their environment at his home every weekend. I will guess you mean that he doesn't go to their school or extracurricular activities. I'm not sure if you are glad that he is not there because of his abusive way of communicating, or if you would like him to be there.

    As my answer her may demonstrate, it is relatively easy to dissect snippets of information, but not particularly helpful. I'm sure you will get a variety of opinion as to when communication raises to the level of harassment on a personal or emotional level. Typically, the court (or by an agreement of the parties) can order limits and guidelines for communication to fit the needs of your case. You can expect the court to apply a "reasonable person" standard, in determining what is and is not harassment, or offensive, and in trying to set appropriate boundaries.

    DISCLAIMER: the foregoing is not intended as legal advice. Every case is different, and the foregoing should not be relied upon for any specific case, including but not limited to the person asking the question. The foregoing is intended as general information only. No attorney client relationship is intended, and no communications through this public forum have the benefit of confidential nor privileged communication.

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