FindLaw KnowledgeBasePublished: 2012-01-18
Divorce, for many people, is a completely new experience. Because of unfamiliarity with the process, some will engage in activity that could damage their case. From posting vacation pictures with their new partner, to going to court in jeans or a mini skirt, there are a myriad of behaviors that could negatively affect your divorce in ways you might not expect.
Stay Away From Social Media
While Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, blogs and other types of social media have become immensely popular as a means of sharing information with friends and family across vast distances, during a divorce, those outlets take on a very different significance. They can become mines of information for your ex-spouse’s divorce attorney.
If you want to continue posting information to a Facebook or Twitter account, consider how any statements or pictures would look on a projection screen in a courtroom with a stern faced judge watching. Remember, your ex-spouse’s attorney will only choose the most embarrassing and damaging posts, possibly taken out of context.
No matter how innocent a photograph or post may actually be, in the cold, hard light of a courtroom, months later, it may be much more difficult to explain away the damage. Sitting at a bar with your new friend with drinks in the foreground and slightly bloodshot eyes in the background, especially if you were out of town, it may prove problematic to explain under a hostile cross-examination, that it was the exception, rather than the rule.
If It’s Online, It’s Not Private
No matter what your privacy setting on social media, if anyone besides yourself can view the material, it’s not private. Moreover, even if your pages are highly protected, friends may repost info or forward emails and texts.
To protect your case and your interests, whether involving custody, visitation, divorce, spousal support, property settlement or child support, it is best to stop using all of these methods of communication. The risk of inadvertent mistakes or out-of-context posts coming back to haunt you is just too great.
Other Bad Behavior
In court, think of what behavior would be appropriate. A courtroom is at least as formal as being in church, and in many cases, more so.
Remember the judge spends significant amounts of time in their courtroom watching how participants act during trials. One of the most important tasks for any judge during a trial is to observe the behavior of parties and assess their credibility.
You can destroy all the meticulous preparation that went into your case with one ill-timed outburst or other inappropriate behavior. The judge is going to decide your future and that of your children, so you need to present yourself in the best light possible, both in and out of the courtroom.