Going through a divorce is almost never easy. You and your spouse may disagree on many matters that can seriously impact your life for a long time to come. Divorce is automatically filled with conflict and this a time when it is so easy to get angry, upset, outraged, and frustrated by the attitudes, actions, and statements that you see and hear from someone you once trusted and loved.
At such moments, it is easy to pick up the phone and fire off small rants via text or tweet, post angry messages on Facebook, or take some other form of lashing out through digital or electronic means. It may feel good at the time but that is the kind of behavior that can permanently damage you in court.
Why? Because those digital forms of communication are not private and can be turned into evidence that can be used against you by your spouse. Welcome to Divorce 101 in the 21st century. This is especially true for individuals who have never been involved in the legal system before and fail to understand the ramifications of their actions. Actions taken in the heat of the moment can seriously affect such matters as child custody, spousal support, the division of marital property and debt, and more.
Texts, Tweets, & Social Media in Divorce
Posting defamatory content or exposing yourself in other ways on social media sites in a moment of emotional turmoil can become legal evidence used against you in court. This involves posting material on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other sites. Other forms of digital communication that can come back to haunt you in court include texts and emails.
Though digital, these are written forms of communication that can later be presented to a judge. Furthermore, deleting them afterward to try to erase the evidence is not recommended. They can ordinarily still be found through subpoenas of electronic records and your deleting them will likely just make you look more guilty.
The following are examples of how such posts can harm you in divorce. You are seeking spousal support in your divorce because you claim you have insufficient funds with which to support yourself. Then you post pictures on Instagram of enjoying yourself in expensive restaurants, showing off your new expensive jewelry, or going on extravagant trips abroad.
Out of revenge for your spouse returning the kids a few minutes late after his turn with them, you refuse to allow visitation the following week. This is followed by angry texts to your spouse involving threats, profanity, or defamatory language highlighting this information. These texts can later affect your child custody matter in court. It is also important to remember that accusations of domestic violence against you can include verbal and emotional abuse. Thus, if you engage in digital communications that involve such language as well as threats, you may find yourself facing the consequences.
Damage Control for Digital Evidence
The first thing to remember when facing any divorce in the matter of digital evidence is to remain as civil as possible. Never text, tweet, or post to social media anything in a moment where you are upset. Take a step back and gain some control. Then your response should be as mature as possible to avoid future problems in court.
A basic in regard to texting is to keep it short – one to two sentences stating the facts. That prevents rants. If whatever you need to say involves more details, say it in an email. It takes longer to write emails which gives you more perspective. Then proofread what you have read and delete anything that could put you in a bad light in the eyes of a future judge.