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Zoom Etiquette: How does it relate to a Texas family law case?

At this stage of the pandemic, I am willing to bet that most of us have been involved in a Zoom call at some point. For those that have not, I will explain what Zoom is is. Zoom is a type of application on your phone or computer that allows people to meet face to face digitally. In the age of social distancing, Zoom has replaced in-person meetings for the time being. Ann has made four more straightforward relations with one another when people are concerned about their health. If you have ever facetimed or done something similar on your cell phone, and then you have an idea of what Zoom is. Zoom allows more than two people to share screens and share information.

For the most part, the things that we hear in the news about Zoom calls are benign. Reports of people not being able to choose a satisfactory background on their ring or people not understanding the basic technology are pretty much the extent to what we hear. However, you see stories come out about bad behavior on Zoom meetings every once in a while. Some of the bad behavior is more or less just adults acting poorly, but some of it is pretty obscene in not fit to talk about on our blog. Simply Google “Zoom meetings,” and I'm sure that you can search until your heart is content on stories involving people and their bad behavior on Zoom calls.

In family law, Zoom meetings and calls have also become a way of life for many practitioners, clients, and judges. Rather than risk the health of one another, attorneys and clients have conducted important meetings over Zoom, and parties have even attended mediation via Zoom. Assuming that the connection is secure, there is no problem with this for the time being. While I would anticipate that Zoom meetings, mediations, and even hearings become more regular in the future, I do not see them replacing in-person varieties.

Another critical area where Zoom meetings have assisted family law clients is initial consultations with attorneys. When you are looking for a family law attorney to represent you, it can be tricky to know who to choose without having had a sit-down meeting with them. Given that some of us are still uncomfortable with a person-to-person contact on that level, a Zoom call or meeting can be a decent substitute for a face-to-face encounter. Again, I have no idea whether this is something that permanently attaches to this profession. However, I can tell you that power attorney are available six days a week to meet with you via video or even over the phone to discuss your potential family law case.

As you can see, Zoom calls and meetings have certainly become standard during the past eight or nine months. As this pandemic drags into another year, I can only anticipate that this will continue to be the case for the time being. With all that said, I wanted to take some time to draw some comparisons between lousy behavior on Zoom calls and how it relates to the world of Texas family law. I think it is safe to say that all of us are feeling the pinch of this pandemic in one way or another. Not even considering specific health concerns, the stresses in anxieties of living during a pandemic cannot be overstated.

With that said, I think a certain degree of bad or out-of-character behavior is to be expected. If you fall into the category of someone who is especially prone to acting out poorly due to stress, then today's blog post is for you. While self-control is not an easy skill to develop, especially during a pandemic, I think it is essential right now as we near the first anniversary of the pandemic in the United States. Suppose you have gone through or are currently going through a complicated family law matter. In that case, the stresses you feel related to that case are likely exacerbated by the realities of this pandemic.

I want to begin the meat and potatoes of today's blog post by discussing how technology can be your friend in your professional life and in your personal life in working together with your child's other parent. Rather than having to meet face-to-face to discuss matters related to your family, you and your child's other parent can utilize technology to coordinate your parenting efforts and discuss ongoing issues about your children or even last-minute changes to Visitation schedules.

How technology can assist you in Co-parenting

The utilization of technology about Co-parenting is nothing new. We have known that Co-parenting can be difficult when interacting with your child other parent is difficult for you. This would be understandable, especially in the time immediately following a complex child custody or divorce case. As such, technology has been beneficial for many families and may serve you and your family will depending upon your specific circumstances.

For example, we have talked on this blog post before about the benefits of text messaging, emails, telephone calls, FaceTime, and Co-parenting websites. While I do not necessarily recommend exclusively using non-face-to-face methods of communication with your Co-parent for some families, this setup does seem to work better. This is true, especially in cases where you and your Co-parent have had a history of abuse or violence, making face-to-face contact very uncomfortable. In extreme cases like these, the use of technology can be an absolute game-changer.

It is up to you and your Co-parent to determine how often you will be utilized technology when it comes to communication. One of the traps that we fall into is that we lean too heavily on text messaging for daily communication when a phone call would be more practical. Think about all the long and drawn-out text message conversations you have had with a friend or family member that could have been quickly taken care of in a fraction of the time had one of you picked up the phone and called the other person. A text message works well if you have a simple one or two-step instruction or update to provide.

On the other hand, a phone call would seem to make more sense by a great deal of information about a particular subject. A lot can be lost when you cannot see a person’s face or hear their voice. Additionally, long and drawn-out text message conversations are challenging to follow. People tend to lose interest and lose track of what they're reading in a text if the discussion has been going on for too long. The last thing you want to do is spend a lot of time on a very detailed text message conversation only to have your Co-parent ignore a crucial part of the message.

Another aspect of this discussion to keep in mind is that depending on your circumstances; it may not be only you and your Co-parent who end up reading those text messages. For instance, text message evidence frequently comes up in divorce, child custody, modification, or enforcement cases. For that reason, you do not want to necessarily have long in complicated text message conversations that end up having to go down as evidence in your case. Those messages are sometimes the best evidence people have anything, and you need to make sure that the language you use is appropriate and relatively easy to understand.

The other thing that I would like to mention about text message conversations is that I have read through many, many text messages from parents to parents concerning their children after or during a family law case, and I can almost always anticipate that there will be vulgar language, rudeness or other types of uncivil behavior in the texts. I'm not saying that there isn't a time or place to be upset with your Co-parent. I am also not naive enough to believe that sometimes we'll say things in text messages that we regret.

However, I will tell you that you need to be careful of what you text in the heat of the moment. You may say something in a text message that makes you feel suitable for a brief second but then looking back on it may be something that you wish you had never sent in the 1st place. Sending a text message with something regrettable is like posting something on the Internet that you also regret. There is now a permanent record of what you said that would be there for whatever use your Co-parent wants to take advantage of.

On the positive side, technology can assist you and your family when doing things like coordinating a last-minute schedule change. For instance, if you are running late to pick up the kids on a Friday evening, you need to call or text ahead of time to your Co-parent to make them aware of this. Imagine being in a position 25 or 30 years ago before cell phones became widely used and leaving your Co-parent out to dry as far as they do not know that you were running late after work. Thanks to your cell phone, this can cause a great deal of consternation in bad feelings that could be avoided in this day and age.

Being patient with your Co-parent is the best course of action to take

Overall, I think having some patience with your Co-parent is the best path to take when it comes to showing etiquette during this pandemic and in the years following it. There is no doubt that being patient with someone right now is more difficult given the overall bad feelings and stresses surrounding our lives currently. However, just because something is not easy does not mean that you should neglect it. On the contrary, we all need one another to be as patient as we can to make it through this pandemic in one piece.

That starts with not always assuming the worst out yourself here when it comes to their actions. I understand that it is easy to think that someone is doing something to specifically harm you, especially when that person has done things in the past that were not always civil or kind. One of the most challenging things to do as a person is to change our perspective on something or someone. When we have spent the better part of the last year assuming the worst of every situation, that transfers over into our assumptions about one another.

Going back to the example that I laid out above, it would be easy to assume that your ex-spouse is running late to pick up the kids because they or trying to harm you or purposely harm your children. However, the more likely and more reasonable explanation may be that they had a problem with their car or stuck at work, or ran into unpredictable traffic. These explanations do not make it right that they are running late, but at least they get it so that the cause was not their desire to harm you or your children. Do not always assume malice when negligence or bad luck is more likely to explain a person's actions or inaction.

Another piece of advice that I would give as far as etiquette during this coronavirus pandemic is to be proactive rather than reactive when communicating with your Co-parent. For example, if you know that there will be a need to alter a visitation schedule due to a change at work or a personal matter, you should make your Co-parent aware of that as soon as possible. Doing so will allow you to plan with them to change schedules and give you all time to make the necessary adjustments.

The alternative would be that you all do not communicate in advance and are instead left to scramble at the last minute to come up with the necessary changes. Think of it in terms of your preference at work: do you like it when your boss gives you plenty of warning about a deadline, or do you prefer to learn about that deadline at the last minute? I am pretty confident that you would choose to know about your deadline in advance to make plans and change your schedule sufficient to meet that deadline and the challenges that come with it.

Why not, then, extend the same courtesy and show the same etiquette to your Co-parent? It does take some getting used to: namely considering another person when you are mapping out your schedule in your life. For some of us, this comes relatively quickly, but for others, it will take some practice and some purposeful and intentional actions to put this sort of plan into motion for your daily life. However, I can assure you that the effort to do so is well worth it and that ultimately it is your children who will benefit the most from your conscientious approach to Co-parenting.

Finally, you can utilize technology like Zoom to attend counseling or therapy with your child and your Co-parent if that is something that suits your family. Many times, digital counseling works better due to hectic schedules and a desire to avoid uncomfortable feelings from being in the same room as your ex-spouse. If you all are willing to attend counseling but do not necessarily want to do so together in person, then Zoom counseling meetings may work well for you and your family.

Questions about the material contained in today's blog post? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan

If you have any questions about the material shared with you in today's blog post, please do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. Our licensed family law attorneys offer free of charge consultation six days a week in person, over the phone, and via video. These consultations are an excellent way for you to learn more about the world of Texas family law and the services provided to our clients by our attorneys and staff.

We take a great deal of pride in serving our community through providing legal services across Southeast Texas. Daily you can find our attorneys in the courthouses of Harris, Matagorda, Galveston, Fort Bend, Montgomery, Jefferson, Liberty, and Waller counties. I appreciate your interest in our law practice, and we hope to have the opportunity to serve you and your family in the future.

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Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC | Houston, Texas Child Custody Lawyers

The Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC, routinely handles matters that affect children and families. If you have questions regarding child custody, it's essential to speak with one of our Houston, TX, child custody lawyers right away to protect your rights.

Our child custody lawyers in Houston, TX, are skilled at listening to your goals during this trying process and developing a strategy to meet those goals. Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC by calling (281) 810-9760 or submit your contact information in our online form. The Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC, handles child custody cases in Houston, Texas, Cypress, Klein, Humble, Kingwood, Tomball, The Woodlands, Houston, the FM 1960 area, or surrounding areas, including Harris County, Montgomery County, Liberty County, Chambers County, Galveston County, Brazoria County, Fort Bend County, and Waller County.

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