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Facebook, Texting, Divorce and You - Be Careful

In a recent article that touched on the intersection of divorce law and social media, the president of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers reported on an anecdote from his own practice:

"I have one husband, frankly, who said in a text message, 'I'm so angry at you right now I could kill you,'" Altshuler says. "He got charged with criminal threatening."

Stupid? Yes. Absolutely common? Yes.

Every lawyer I know who practices in family law has a score of similar tales to share - some generated in text squabbles on child pickups, support requests or property splits in the divorce itself, and some generated in an unguarded moment on Facebook. The Facebook entries create a special problem, as a picture of a poorly timed party can raise doubts about how well the children were cared for that evening, or a fun photo of betting tickets generated a gambling trip can raise questions about why the temporary maintenance payment can't get made that month. While Kentucky is a no-fault divorce state, often, these posts have broader implications with regard to custody, allocation of parenting time and spousal maintenance, and litigants should be on their guard against making reckless comments.

Sadly, no matter how many times I give this sage advice, someone will get caught up in the heat of the moment.

1. Always assume that your texts will be read to a judge.

2. Always assume that your Facebook and Twitter posts will be printed and shown to a judge.

3. Always assume that the messages you leave will be preserved for presentation to the judge.

4. Always assume that your phone conversations are recorded for presentation to the judge.

5. Always assume that your conduct on child transportation exchange is being at least audiorecorded (if not put on video, as well) for presentation to the judge.

6. Always assume that your conduct on the exchange of personal property is being at least audiorecorded (if not put on video, as well) for presentation to the judge.

Once litigants resign themselves to this set of assumptions and modfy their behavior in consideration of these assumptions, they find the process far less painful.