Communicating Effectively in High Conflict Family Litigation

Communicating effectively in high conflict parenting cases is a major issue in family litigation. Often, the child’s best interest takes a backseat to animosity between the parents. The Supreme Court of British Columbia recently addressed the issue in K.R.Y. v. P.J.P.T., 2015 BCSC 1903, a judgment providing good food for thought for family lawyers everywhere.

A section 211 report by Dr. England was tendered. In it, she cites the following excerpt of Justice Joyce in A.C.V. v. S.J.R., 2011 BCSC 1279:

“Texting is a modern means of communication that is great in many situations but not, in my view, in a situation such as this. It is too fast. It does not encourage calm reflection. A person can too easily make hurtful and unhelpful comments from a distance. In my view, email communication, while not as good as calm, courteous personal discourse, is the preferred option. It should be limited to matters concerning J.R. upon which it is truly necessary or helpful to communicate. I encourage the parents to compose when they are calm, always to re-read what they have written and, before hitting the send button, ask this question: Do I want this message being read in Court?”

Dr. England further recommended that parents communicate the bare minimum amount of information in order to minimize the potential for conflict.

Family lawyers everywhere should bear these tips in mind when advising clients in high conflict family cases.

Jeffrey L. Hartman 

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