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Family Law, Your Facebook Friends and Twitter Followers

All through 2012, I warned people who are in a family law dispute about being cautious about the information shared over social media sites such as Facebook or Twitter and implored restraint on the texts they exchange. Sadly, folks are still saying cathartic things in the heat of the moment, and I wind up either using them against a litigant or defending against their use against my clients. What they never seem to realize that judges in Louisville are more than willing to base portions of their rulings on statements made over media designed to broadcast to the public.

Because of the insatiable desire that people have to overshare, the advice against Facebook/Twitter sharing goes beyond anecdotal tales of rekindled old romances, but also goes to issues of fiscal recklessness, hidden assets, hidden debt, child neglect, destructive habits, child abandonment, physical endangerment and the entire panoply of failure that causes relationships and lives to collapse. My advice usually includes a command that before every post or tweet or text, assume that the judge will be reading the statement as evidence. As a longtime family law practitioner, I'm used to seeing people err, and make every effort to point my clients away from committing these types of mistakes.

I'm obviously not the only lawyer who feels this way. According to a recent study commissioned by Divorce Online, more than a third of all new divorce filings contain the word "Facebook", and roughly 80% of family lawyers have seen a significant rise in factors relating to social networking in their domestic relations cases.

Don't overshare. Don't send messages you'll regret if they're read back to you in court - your friends aren't going to be that interested in helping you out of the jam it creates.