Social Media Warnings, Family Law Parties
Published to: 000113, 000114, 000115, 000116, 000117, A Small Town Lawyer's Perspective, Perspectives of a Small Town Lawyer, West Virginia Lawyer - Tips and Techniques
on March 14, 2011 12:23 am
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1. If you want a good result in your divorce, YOU MUST consider the Facebook/Social Media component. That is because your case can be grievously damaged, or helped, by the content of social media postings. Do not hand the other side ammunition to damage your reputation or challenge your fitness as a parent, or overlook his/her gifts to us. No, I have not forgotten that our “opponent” is your child’s parent. We hope to negotiate a fair settlement, but we KEEP OUR GUARD UP!
2. The decision of how you conduct yourself in e-mail, texting, Facebook, Twitter, and the rest, must have one overriding principle: People who conduct themselves ethically, morally, and responsibly have an edge over those who do not.
3. Remember that your postings are not confidential. Just as your friends can betray you and gossip about you, your “Facebook Friends” may not be friends at all. If you are in litigation, or may be soon, assume that your Facebook, MySpace, Link’d In, and Twitter postings are being accessed by someone whose interests are different than yours.
4. If your spouse’s lawyer can demonstrate your bad behavior, bad companions, or bad values, he/she will use this evidence to oppose what you want.
5. Assume that your search history is available to others; so, porn, especially child porn, drug abuse, casual alcohol abuse, your tattooed companion, that “great” karaoke party on the webcam, and the rest, can become evidence at trial. Some of the above are also crimes, and law enforcement is monitoring the WEB too.
6. Even when it is not used at trial, negative stuff on the computer can enrage the other side, cause them to believe you won’t protect the children, and poison the atmosphere at mediation .
7. Some of my colleagues have suggested we “require” that clients not use social media. To me, that is akin to telling you not to use your phone or fax machine. And, it is as hopeless as telling my separated clients not to date. (I strongly URGE you not to date or expose children traumatized by a separation to a new “significant other. At least wait until you see the mandatory parenting class for divorcing parents.)
8. Your Friends may not tell you, but real friends will NOT be impressed with your bashing of your spouse, ranting, or whining. You do so at your peril. And, you must meet with family and friends and insist that they not play “Hatfields and McCoys”.
9. But, your “social network”, personal and digital, can help pull you through this difficult time. I say, just act responsibly.
10. My best advice? Put your children first, do not involve them in the fight, no drugs, moderate your alcohol use, discourage friends and family from acting up, and be very, very, very careful of what you send, receive, browse, print, post, and view ON THAT PHONE AND COMPUTER!!
This post was written by Burton Hunter