Technology is wonderful. It allows us to connect with our family and friends, to quickly have access to all of the information on the Internet, and so much more. However, as great as technology can be, it can be misused and has the potential to become a major problem. Through a divorce or separation, distancing yourself is hard enough, specifically when sharing children. But add in text messages and social media to the mix, harassment can take on a new form, even going as far as having the victims considering a restraining order.
Is Texting Harassment?
For example, your phone is an easy way that you can be harassed. Even if you don’t pick up the phone to answer a call, the offender can still send you text messages that you feel are offensive and harassing. Things can get tricky here.
Sometimes, a text conversation with someone might start out harmless and mild enough. Perhaps you are talking with your ex about picking up or dropping off the kids, for example. Then, something sets them off and the texting starts to become harassing or accusatorial. Other times, you might have the kids and your ex might be constantly texting you asking about them, wanting to talk to them, and they simply won’t leave your phone alone.
At what point do the messages become deemed harassment by the law? What types of messages are considered harassment? This is something that many courts today are dealing with and trying to understand. More and more cases are involving digital communications, and the way judges are dealing with them differs based on the case and their individual judgment.
In one case, for example, when threats weren’t made through the texts, it was deemed okay for one parent to repeatedly send text messages even though it must have been annoying for the parent receiving them. In cases where there are threats, though, a judge would likely respond differently.
One of the benefits of text messages is that they are written communication. Even if your ex decides that they will delete their messages that could be considered harassment, you will still have them on your phone.
When there aren’t any threats, you are not likely going to be able to get an order of protection. You probably can’t even have the other party be ordered to stop sending the messages unless there is clear harassment. Make sure you are keeping all of the text communications and other forms of communication you have with the other party.
When Can You Get a Restraining Order?
If someone is sending threatening messages and you are afraid for your safety, you should consider trying to get an order of protection. You can contact an attorney to learn more about the possibility of getting a restraining order against the person who is sending these texts to you. It’s important to note that you have to be able to prove that there is an imminent threat.
If there has been a history of domestic violence or abuse, you will need to provide that information when you are trying to get the order. Judges will often want to be on the safe side when it comes to these types of cases and they are more likely to grand a restraining order in these cases when there is a history of problems.
In cases where there’s not a history of violence and where the other person is sending you multiple text messages and annoying you, chances are slim that you’ll get a restraining order. Remember, there has to be a threat. If you aren’t sure whether you might be able to get one of these orders, you should talk with the attorney to get their expert opinion. If you do, it means that if they continue to attempt to communicate with you, it would be considered breaking the restraining order, and they can get in trouble.
Something that you should keep in mind when you are considering filing for a restraining order is that texts from both of you will be scrutinized. Not just theirs. If you are the one who initiates the bad behavior or you are trying to bait the other person into sending texts, it will not look good for you.
Additionally, even though you may be getting annoyed that someone keeps texting you, try to keep your cool in the messages you send back to them. Don’t text in anger, or it could end up being used against you.
Each Case Is Different
Because this technology is still relatively new, it means that the rules for dealing with texts and other types of communication are still being formed. Each case is going to be somewhat different, which can complicate things further.
It can be difficult for you to know whether you might be able to get a restraining order because of the nature or number of the texts being sent to you. In some cases, a simple enough solution would be to block that person and only engage with them when it is absolutely necessary to carry on with different parts of the divorce.
If you don’t have children, and you can communicate through email or your attorneys, this could help to reduce the amount of stress you are feeling. However, we know that this won’t work in all cases. Sometimes, you have to remain in contact, at least during the divorce.
Those who have children, for example, will need to have good and reliable means of communicating with the other parent. Even when the ex takes advantage of this and starts sending harassing texts or simply too many, you still have to keep that line of communication for the sake of the children. You can’t control their actions, but you can control how you engage with your ex through texts.
Contact a Family Law Attorney
When you are going through a divorce, whether you have issues with a chronic texter or not, it’s a good idea to at least consult with an attorney. They have seen many different types of cases and will likely have some more insight into how to handle those constant text messages. Listen to their advice and provide them with evidence of harassment. They can give you a better idea of whether you might have a chance of getting a restraining order.