DEAR ABBY: I’m divorced with a young son. My ex-husband and I share joint custody, and for the most part it has worked well. My problem is that my ex is very bitter about our divorce and the fact I have moved on with my life. He constantly makes derogatory comments to me in front of our son and others.

It is bad enough that my son must witness this, but my ex has taken it a step further. He is the editor of a small newspaper and is now making disparaging comments about me in his column. He is trying to improve his image at my expense; however, I am unable to respond because he won’t print a rebuttal in his paper.

The abuse continues despite the divorce, but now the audience is wider. Is this ethical journalism, and how can I put a stop to it? — FRUSTRATED EX

DEAR FRUSTRATED EX: Using a newspaper column to continue a personal vendetta over a failed marriage is not ethical journalism, although it may make for titillating reading. You do not have to tolerate his public sniping. Take the offensive clippings to your lawyer and ask him or her to write a strong letter to the publisher of the newspaper — because THAT’S who will be liable if there are grounds for a lawsuit.

DEAR ABBY: My husband and I attended a wedding in September of last year. We purchased expensive crystal for the bride and groom, which cost us nearly $600. This was separate from the bridal shower gift we gave them in May. We have not received thank-you notes for either of these gifts.

My husband told me that you have said it’s appropriate to send thank-you notes up to one year after the wedding. My mother taught me to send them as quickly as possible.

My sister had her wedding thank-you notes out in three weeks, and I had mine out in two weeks. My sister and I both worked and were setting up new households with our husbands, but we felt it was a priority. We wanted to ensure that our family and friends knew how much their thoughtfulness was appreciated.

Can you please clarify thank-you note etiquette? I am tired of wondering if my gifts were received and appreciated. — DISGUSTED IN DELAWARE

DEAR DISGUSTED: I have said in the past that a thank-you note anytime is better than none at all. However, good manners dictate that thank-you notes should follow within three months at the latest, and preferably within one month — regardless of whether the giver has been thanked verbally.

DEAR ABBY: I work in the medical field and have recently learned about a campaign that was launched in England. It urges people to store the word “ICE” (In Case of Emergency) in their cellphone address book, along with the phone number of the person you would want contacted.

It’s such a simple idea, but it could be extremely helpful in an emergency situation. It would save ambulance crews and hospital staff precious time and ensure that a patient’s loved ones are contacted as quickly as possible.

If you agree the idea is worthwhile, please mention it in your column and help to get this initiated in the United States. — TANYA F., MIAMI

DEAR TANYA: The idea is certainly worth considering; however, I would offer a minor adjustment. I would recommend that it be indexed under “Emergency Contact” rather than an obscure heading such as “ICE.”

Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Write Dear Abby at or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

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