Dear Carolyn,

Shumuck-wad, that is what my ex is calling me. He puts these crazy words in writing. We have no good communication regarding our two children, only nasty-grams. We have not had our final custody case, but I am using all of his emails and texts as evidence in the trial. How do I make him stop communicating with me like this?


Carolyn Answers …

Some people never get it; others are simply angry and get over it eventually. I cannot tell which category your situation and your ex are in – angry or clueless.

My suggestion is twofold: One, make sure your language in emails and texts is professional, courteous and business-like. I know how difficult it is when you are being called names, but you must not respond in kind. Two, ask your lawyer to ask the judge to order all communications through I will discuss the benefits of this program that has been around for a while and used by many of my clients to address situations like yours.

With Our Family Wizard, all communications between the parents are placed in the program, which is cloud-based. The court (or you) can grant others the right to view the postings on Our Family Wizard. The court could order communications therapy with a psychologist for the two parents and then grant the psychologist access to the email postings to monitor and comment/teach the parents about communication.

One of the great features of Our Family Wizard is that the program recognizes nasty-grams and auto-suggests mindfulness and reframing of wording. Perhaps if Our Family Wizard highlighted schmuck-wad, your ex would have rethought his selection of words.

Other features of Our Family Wizard are as follows:

A master calendar for the children, the parenting schedule and the extracurricular activities – no more “she didn’t tell me about the recital” because the posting would be on Our Family Wizard. This calendar feature can be used to post feeding schedules and sleeping schedules.

Medical history, such as immunizations, well-child visits and emergency room visits can be posted. You can even upload the health insurance card for the children. I like this feature because if a parent had an emergency with a child, all of the information from both parents would be in the same place and could be accessed for the benefit of the children.

A common problem for parents in separated households is tracking reimbursement from one parent to the other of uninsured medical bills. These bills can be posted on Our Family Wizard, and the bills can actually be reimbursed with ACH. The cost per transaction is $2.50, so maybe the judge can order that reimbursements are handled once a month. Our Family Wizard has top security for its website with SSL certificates and a “lock” icon on the website.

When a parent posts to Our Family Wizard, the other parent receives notification, and a parent can customize this notification to be a text or an email.

The site tracks IP addresses with a sign-in log, has an English version and a Spanish version and the cost is $99 per parent per year.

I tried to find a definition of schmuck-wad. The two words together appear to be undefined. Schmuck is a term for unwittingly stupid. Wad has several definitions, but commonly is a lump or bundle, such as a wad of cotton. Al Capps’s Cartoon had The Life and Times of the Schmoo. The Urban Dictionary invited me to be the first to define schmuck-wad. I found schmuck Zilla, which is a pejorative term for a big, shocking and unwittingly stupid person. Then there also is schmucky the clown and schmucky the cat. I thought I was well-read until I found The Holy Chronicles of Schmucky the Cat. Should I try to define schmuck-wad, it would make a great closing argument in a custody case, I can tell you that.



Dear Carolyn,

Same song, second verse – my ex-wife is drinking again, and I think our children should not be with her when she is drinking. I am going to have to take the drinking back to the court once again. I don’t think this mother should drink when she has the children. I have heard of the SCRAM leg bracelet. Are there other options?


Carolyn Answers …

A custody order by statute can require a parent seeking custody or visitation to “abstain from consuming alcohol” (NCGS Section 50-13.2(b2)). The court can order a parent to submit “to a continuous alcohol monitoring system, of a type approved by the Division of Adult Correction of the Department of Public Safety, to verify compliance with this condition of custody or visitation.” Please note the word “continuous.”

SCRAM is a recognized leg/ankle bracelet that provides continuous alcohol monitoring for a monthly fee. SCRAM definitely fits the requirements of the child custody statute I cited above. Installation can be $50 to $100, and the daily fee could be as much as $10 to $15. Also, it is cumbersome and noticeable, so the child, as well as employers, are going to know the person has the SCRAM bracelet, which once attached is with the person 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The mother will also be wearing the ankle bracelet when she doesn’t have the children.

Soberlink is an option, at least by consent order. Soberlink is a handheld breathalyzer device. The device photographs the person breathing into it and uses facial recognition software. The Soberlink provides for accountability. The consent order should set out a schedule with exact times for a parent to blow in the device. A missed test should be a failed test. A person is considered alcohol-impaired if the person blows higher than .019. The device transfers the information to Soberlink, and Soberlink immediately transmits a report via email and/or text to the other parent. The consent order could also provide the children be immediately surrendered to the other parent if a test is failed. The set-up fee is $75 and the monthly fee is $180.

I would be in favor of expanding the child custody statutes to allow judges to be able to order noncontinuous alcohol monitoring in appropriate cases.


Note that answers are intended to provide general legal information and are not specific legal advice for your situation. The column also uses hypothetical questions. A subtle fact in your unique case may determine the legal advice you need. Also, please note that you are not creating an attorney-client relationship with Carolyn J. Woodruff by writing or having your question answered by Ask Carolyn.