Ghost Your Ex

If you get a divorce, shouldn’t you expect that your ex-spouse might not say nice things about you? Shouldn’t you expect the ex to say bad things about you? Of course you should.

I think this would be particularly true if the divorce was so epic that the ex was inspired to “contribute a chapter to a book about women and marriage.” You know that’s not going to be good.

The quoted phrase is from a Utah Court of Appeals ruling the other day in which the court ruled against an ex-husband who wanted the ex-wife he divorced in 2013 to stop saying bad things about him. This was not a defamation suit — what the guy wanted was a modification of his divorce decree that said the wife was not supposed to tell people he kicked her out of the house or stole marital assets.

If nothing else, there are lessons here for family law practitioners.

Lesson one: If the client is afraid of a couple of things the ex might say, consider that the ex probably has a lot of other things to say. Your nondisparagement agreements shouldn’t be narrow or specific. I recommend a ghosting clause in which the parties agree never to speak of each other ever again.

Lesson two: If the client’s ex has already said something bad years after the divorce, don’t advise a request to expand the old divorce decree. You’ll probably lose, the bad things will already have been said anyway, and without a doubt, there will be more bad things said. Many more bad things said.

The litigation also makes we want to go find the book chapter that the ex wrote about him.

Ex-husbands need to learn from TV/movie producers who turn the stuff they want to ban into hits.

Public records? We’re all concerned about our personal privacy these days, but what about your dog’s privacy? Shouldn’t your best friend be shielded from trolls and merchants too?

OK, your dog has a thick skin and probably won’t buy anything, but his privacy is in danger.  A New Jersey appeals court has ruled that dog license registrations are public records and that people who apply for dog licenses do not have a reasonable expectation of privacy.

“Indeed, people who own dogs frequently walk them in public places and ordinarily do not conceal their status,” the court said.

I’m now attempting to picture someone concealing their dog’s status on a walk. Would you put it in a cat suit? Would a mask do the trick? Maybe you could tell people it’s a baboon.

Be that as it may, you need to train your pet not to check email.

Favorite sentence from the ruling (footnote 7): “We see no merit to the self-serving remarks made by plaintiff’s counsel at argument before the trial court that he felt no risk of harm by stating his name, address, and his dog’s name in open court.”

OK, but how would the dog feel about it?

Wake up! We have a good addition for your collection of creative excuses that don’t work (so don’t try them). This is from a recent Supreme Court of New Hampshire ruling in a lawyer discipline case: “The respondent argued that, due to sleep apnea, he was suffering from oxygen desaturation in his brain, which inhibited his judgment and ability to fully comprehend the consequences of his actions.”

This didn’t prevent the attorney from billing his client after repeatedly sending him messages about documents he claimed were filed but weren’t.

He should have blamed it on sleepwalking.

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