Oversharing On Facebook? It Can Cost You in a Texas Divorce
“It is better to keep your mouth closed and let people think you are a fool than to open it and remove all doubt.” – Mark Twain
Even though Mark Twain died more than a century ago, these words are just as relevant, if not more, than they were when they were spoken. The problem is, in today’s society, there are many more forums in which to remove all doubt. Unfortunately, removing all doubt is no longer limited to saying things you regret to a small group of people that will eventually forget about it, or sending a letter that someone will probably throw away. When we remove all doubt now through Facebook posts, tweets or emails, they live on forever for the world to see, and have longer-lasting consequences. This is especially true when going through a divorce or child custody case.
Take this recent article on the popular legal blog Above the Law, detailing how the clerk for a New Jersey judge has been suspended without pay pending an investigation into her inappropriate Facebook posts. A state trooper in New Jersey was killed over the weekend when his car struck a deer. The clerk, Leslie Anderson, decided to post on Facebook that the death was “not tragic” and told those expressing sympathy to “get over yourselves.” Although the posts have been taken down, someone took a screenshot of them, and the world now knows about the posts.
We see the same type of behavior in divorce cases. I get excited when I see an opposing party oversharing on Facebook. I have seen them brag about getting drunk while taking care of their children, call their soon-to-be ex horrible names, and even tell the world how stupid they think the Judge is. This will certainly not help their case, and opposing attorneys will have a field day with those statements in Court.
Sometimes, I think Facebook and other social media should give a Miranda-style warning before you post, something like “Are you sure you want the world to see this? After all, anything you post can and will be used against you in a Court of law or public opinion.” My partner Ashley McDowell summed it up with this quote in Modern Luxury Magazine:
“The increasing lack of privacy and anonymity with the popularity of social media wreaks havoc on a divorce case. Stop over-sharing on social media. Don’t hit send on emails or texts that you’ll regret seeing used against you in court as evidence.”
If you are or will be my client, please take Ashley’s advice. If you are on the other side, hit send and remove all doubt!
If you have more questions about the use of social media in a Texas divorce or child custody case, I can be reached by phone at 214-526-5234 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. VernerBrumley’s principal office is located in Dallas, Texas.