Texting while Driving or Texting while Divorcing, both are bad but only one is illegal. It is September 1, 2017 and those laws that got passed in Austin during the bi-annual session take effect today. One of the most celebrated, well at least more discussed, is the new prohibition against texting while driving. Love it or hate it, put down the phone while driving in Texas is now a law – no texting, messaging, posting to Facebook, or typing while driving. You may continue to make phone calls in your car if it is hands free.
But what about texting while divorcing? I should have brought this to the attention of legislators because if recent events are a sneak peak into the future, no one is safe. We have all been guilty of, party to, or prognosticators of doom as it relates to the dreaded “drunken text”. I myself have thankfully remained in the camp telling others to stop or don’t drunken text, maybe if the iPhone had come along 20 years sooner I would have been the recipient of such warnings. Not to date myself, but when I was single, the game was to take the dimes away from the guy having one beer too many after a break-up. Text is what we called the book we had to read for class. The proliferation of unlimited cellular plans has made being a good friend a lot harder.
So, what do recent events have to do with divorce and child custody in Texas? Well, I am so glad you asked. Our society has changed, smart phones give us the ability to reach out and annoy our soon to be ex in all new ways. STOP! Equally important, remember how that smart phone in your purse or pocket has a camera? Ever see someone snapping selfies in a bar? If you are anywhere except your home and you know everyone there has a camera phone and the ability to post your mug shot to social media or text it to your Ex, have you given implied consent to being photographed?
I’ll let you in on a secret – maybe you gave implied consent, maybe you did not, but if that photo of you violating Court Orders, or the drunken text you sent to your Ex makes it to the Judge’s bench, consent means nothing. So don’t do it. New rule – Do not text while divorcing. Second new rule – when you violate rule 1, and you will violate rule 1 – do not say anything that will embarrass you if I read it out loud in front of your mother, your minister and 12 strangers. And if you are not sure if it would embarrass you, ask if it would embarrass your mother, your minister or any one of those twelve strangers before you hit the send button.
Texas HB 62 in it’s final iteration (I don’t know the Traffic Code number yet) declares using a phone for other than hands free verbal communication while driving is a misdemeanor offense punishable by a fine. The fines range from $25 to $99 but with enhancements for prior offenses (those who are frequent flyers on the texting while driving express) may be as much as $200. But that is mere pennies compared to the cost of Texting while Divorcing and your unlimited text plan will not reduce this cost.
Let’s say you text your ex and you say something off base – i.e. you violated both rule 1 and rule 2; now your Ex forwards the text to her lawyer, ($25) who calls your lawyer (another $25), who send you a text – WTF? Y U TXT EX? (another $25) . . . Trust me on this, it is now cheaper to call the lawyer and use real words, but even if you make that a short phone call, your one text resulted in $100 in attorneys fees, maybe more and depending on what was said, the context of the text, and the spin the recipient of said text may put on the point when telling the Judge, that one text could cost you $200 and maybe more.
Just say no to Texting and Driving, and say no to Texting and Divorcing while you are at it. Both are expensive and violations are not covered by your current data plan.