Yes, But Guest & Gray, P.C. Can Help:
You’re in the midst of a contested divorce and you are keeping all of your friends, relatives, and the world update on Facebook. You post pictures, updates as to the status of your case, and post how you feel about your soon-to-be-ex. This should be your personal diary and is there for you to vent. Right? Wrong. Guest & Gray, P.C. handles numerous divorces on a daily basis. More recently, we are seeing the issue of our clients falling into the Facebook trap. Do not be discouraged; our office has the experience to assist you not only through your divorce but to ensure that you take the steps yourself so as to not hinder positive results.
If you post anything that is defamatory/derogatory/harassing, etc. against the other party or their attorney, the Court would definitely frown upon that. More importantly, that gives the other party ammunition to file a contempt motion against you. Dallas County, Rockwall County, and Kaufman County all have standing orders in every divorce action that specifically state what you and the other party are to do and not do while your case is pending. Dallas County standing orders state you are ordered to refrain from the following:
3.1. Using vulgar, profane, obscene, or indecent language,or a coarse or offensive manner to communicate with the other party, whether in person, by telephone, or in writing.
3.2 Threatening the other party in person, by telephone, or in writing to take unlawful action against any person.
If the other party finds anything of this nature on your Facebook, prints it, and files a motion to compel, the proof is by your own submission and admission. Once they prove that you violated the aforementioned standing orders, the punishment for that is an award of attorneys’ fees in favor of the movant. Many Courts will award attorneys’ fees in a situation like this to try and prevent this from occurring in the future.
Also, if there is a claim that you have committed adultery and the other party is seeking a disproportionate share of the community estate your Facebook can be used as proof against you. That is, if you are posting pictures of your new significant other, if you list yourself as “in a relationship” and things of those nature.
If your divorce involves child custody, your Facebook becomes even more important. Reason being, if you post any pictures of your late night bar hops, significant others, etc. that can also be used against you when determining custody arrangements and visitation. For example, if there is a claim that you are an alcoholic and you are posting numerous pictures of your bar escapades and every time you have a drink, you are only helping the other party prove their case.
What Should You Do?
Basically, in all scenarios involving your Facebook page listed above, you are spoon feeding the other party the evidence that they need to make a case against you. Do not fall victim to this common trap.
The best advice would be to update your privacy settings and ensure that only the people who you want seeing your information can see it. However, even that does not solve the problem completely. Facebook pages in their entirety–messages, posts, pictures, etc–can be and are being frequently requested in discovery. So, even if your soon-to-be-ex is not your friend on Facebook and cannot see your “page”, they will still eventually see it all. In addition to updating your privacy settings, another way to protect yourself is by not posting anything on your Facebook that you would not want the judge in your case to see. Thus, if you still insist on updating your Facebook account while your divorce is pending, keep it as brief as possible. Do not post about your divorce, your ex, if you go out, etc. It will only benefit you in the future.
I have helped many clients with this issue and I can help you as well. Guest & Gray, P.C. has the family law experience that you need. We have offices in Forney, Rockwall, and Kaufman. Call us today to schedule your appointment.