Mobile phones have made it easier than ever before for people to remain in constant contact. The ability to reach out to someone and get a response instantly can be a beautiful thing when your relationship is healthy, but it can become dangerous when your relationship begins to break down.

Couples getting close to divorce or who have recently separated often have intense emotions. It is normal and natural to feel angry, betrayed or depressed. However, you cannot take those emotions out on your ex, especially not in a digital message that can turn into evidence during your contested divorce proceedings.

Think before you press send on the message you just typed

Text communication is fast and effective, but it lacks the tone of voice that helps people discern your true intent during phone conversations. The lack of visual cues can also mean that things you say as a joke or in hyperbole could come across as serious or even threatening.

Messages that your ex would never have batted an eye about during your marriage could provoke strong responses, including fear, now that your relationship has begun to decline. It’s important that you not just think your messages’ intentions but how other people might interpret them.

Exaggeration or attempts at jokes could leave you in a vulnerable legal position in the future. The same is true for emotional or angry messages, especially if someone could read the content as threatening in tone.

Once you send it, there’s a permanent record of your communication

Digital communication is convenient, but it also creates a paper trail that can cause complications as you move forward with the divorce. For example, angry or aggressive messages could help your ex make a claim that they fear for their safety and that they want a protective order. Statements about preventing your ex from seeing your children could serve as evidence that you intended to engage in parental alienation and the court should limit your parental right, not theirs.

Although most people are in the habit of sending messages without thinking about them, give yourself a five-minute cool-off period anytime you want to send a text to your ex. Apply the same rule to emails, social media messages and any other kind of digital communication that leaves a trail that could serve as evidence later in court.

After you type the message, set a timer on your phone and step away for at least five minutes. Come back and re-read the message after you had some time to calm down, and see if it still seems to read the same way it did before. If it comes across as aggressive or emotional, you may want to change the message before you send it.