Post No Evil
In today's "Ask a Divorce Lawyer" column, attorney Dana Stutman responds to a reader whose ex can't stop maligning them online, twenty years after their divorce.
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Ten years ago, when I was trying to decide whether or not to get divorced, my twice-divorced late mentor put the decision in blunt terms: “Marriages come and go,” she said, quoting herself, “but divorce is forever.” I didn’t really understand what she meant back then—Yes, of course divorce is forever, that’s why I want to do it! I can’t stay in this marriage one more minute!—but now that I’m nearly a decade out, I get it. Your ex-spouse will always be your ex-spouse, whether or not you have day-to-day contact with them via shared children. How the two of you interacted as husband and wife will often dictate how you interact as exes. And how you feel about that interaction can either be the cause of stress, with its many adverse health effects, or not.
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Thankfully, I’ve been lucky on that front. My ex does not malign me, either online or to my kids. We obviously have our ongoing, intractable issues, else we would not be divorced, but they are tempered by living in separate homes, and he even joined us last year for a Christmas Eve dinner, when all three of our kids were recovering from Covid. In fact, now that our two older ones are grown, my ex and I have had many dinners together when one or both of them are in town. As recent as last Saturday, as I was rushing back to Brooklyn from a book festival in Gaithersburg, my ex was generous enough to invite me to crash his dinner with his girlfriend before our little one’s choral concert. Even better, I love my ex’s girlfriend, I enjoy seeing them together, and I was grateful to have been included in their plans.
Today’s letter writer, “The Gift that Keeps on Giving,” is upset over his wife’s shit-posting about him on social media, twenty years after their marriage ended. As well he should be. I’ve blocked friends and relatives for lesser crimes, that’s how crazy it drives me to read cruel posts about others, and I wasn’t even the target of that vitriol. I’ve also seen, firsthand, the anxiety, pain, and adverse health effects inflicted by an ex’s cruel words, whether on social media or via digital darts aimed straight into their ex-spouse’s phone. One man I dated was not only brought to his knees by it,
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