Poetic advice

There's a well-known proverb that says, "Do right and fear no man, don't write and fear no woman."   They're certainly words to live by...and I've been thinking about them lately with the recent release of more than a thousand letters that T.S. Eliot wrote to Emily Hale, a longtime friend who many Eliot scholars have thought was also his mistress. Before he died, Eliot resolutely asserted that he wasn't in love with Hale...but that myriad of correspondence seems to prove otherwise.


The risks of putting secret, risky or personal behavior in writing are obvious. Those documents can, of course, affect divorce proceedings, since they potentially prove activities like adultery or any other aspect of a relationship. The situation is much more pronounced today than in Eliot's time, as we live in an era of texts, emails, and social media posts, many written hastily. There are some people who send e-mails instead of simply picking up a phone. These are, in a divorce proceeding, subject to subpoena.

The advice I, as an experienced divorce lawyer, give is common sense: be careful what you write! Whether you're typing on a telephone screen or writing in fountain pen as Eliot would have, the ramifications can be the same. In divorce proceedings, a quick text could possibly affect a divorce settlement, child custody, pet custody, and much more.   And in the case of social media posts, which both document activities and share them with the world at large, proceeding with even more caution is sound advice indeed. As is, incidentally, doing right in the first place.

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