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In divorce cases, digital silence is golden

Electronic evidence is very common in today’s divorces.

If you’re like most people, you use electronic communications on a daily basis. You may send an email to a distant relative or business acquaintance, log on to a social media site to check in with an old friend, fire off a text message to let your babysitter know you’re running a bit late, or post an update about the bad day you just had. With all these online resources at our disposal, it’s easy to rely on our electronic connections for business and personal purposes.

Something we may not fully comprehend, however, is the way in which our online and real lives may intersect, particularly in the event of a divorce.

The social media goldmine

Some of us use social media like a diary or journal of sorts, telling each of our friends about the minutiae of our day in exhausting detail. We share everything, both the highs and lows, in emotion-filled missives. That can be cathartic; to vent out frustrations or appeal for commiseration about a tough issue we’re dealing with can make things easier to handle. The same desire for online support or affirmation can, somewhat counterintuitively, be problematic during a divorce, though.

Nowadays, social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and more are potential goldmines of evidence in divorce cases. Negative comments about your spouse, even if true, can be used as evidence of bad faith, intransigence, or alienation of a child’s affections. Positive comments about your spouse can be used to rebut your own claim of bad faith or poor parenting. A mention of a new big-ticket purchase could fly in the face of a financial disclosure saying that you can’t afford to pay child support or alimony.

Looking at it from another perspective

Emails and text messages, as well as GPS coordinates, directions and location “check-ins” can also be discovered and potentially used against you in a family law proceeding. Were you out with a friend instead of at home with your children? Think of how that would appear to a judge handling your custody case, and how it could be negatively “spun” by your spouse.

The best practice is to totally refrain from any online posting (Facebook, blogs, etc.) or messages (texts, Twitter, What’s App, etc.) which deal with your spouse, the parenting plan, finances, assets, or any other issue in your court case. Even the most carefully controlled online communications can usually be discoverable by an expert in computer forensics, and cached web pages, screenshots, printouts and more can be found days, weeks or months after something was erased or deleted. In divorce cases, digital silence is golden.

Family law cases can be incredibly stressful, emotional and difficult. They are also best handled by someone with experience in the family court system who can remain objective and give you the guidance necessary to avoid making costly mistakes. To discuss your contested family law issues with a skilled attorney at Clement Law Center, call the firm locally at 253-357-5395, or contact them online today.