“You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law…”Miranda rights
Most people do not expect what they post on Facebook, or Instragram, or even what they write in text messages and emails to end up in a courtroom being read by a judge. But guess what? If you find yourself in litigation in family court, something you said, posted, commented on, even casually, years ago, can be used against you, and can be damaging to your case.
It is normal and natural for couples to get into arguments, and to express feelings of anger, frustration, and disappointment to the other parent verbally and in writing – text messages, emails, letters, voicemails, etc. Maybe you don’t even remember saying something in anger. Maybe you referred to your ex by a derogatory name in a text message 5 years ago, and have long forgotten about it. A text message or email sent in the heat of the moment can come back to haunt you in the middle of a contentious divorce or custody battle.
Anything you post on social media can last forever. Someone can take a screen grab of something you posted years ago and it can resurface years later. Maybe you posted a photograph of yourself drinking a beer on your 21st birthday, 10 years ago. Maybe you posted a distasteful cartoon, or meme, and posted a “smiling face” emoji or “thumb’s up” next to it. These things may have long been forgotten by you, but in the arena of family law, these things are weapons. They are gold. They can be used to portray you as an unfit parent, or as someone with anger issues, or alcohol issues, and can be used to adversely affect your position in the case.
We can’t have a crystal ball to predict the future, so we can’t do much about the past. What’s done is done. You said what you said, and did what you did. The better approach in dealing with any ghosts from your past is to own up to it, apologize if necessary, and let your attorney handle the rest.
You CAN control what you do from now on. If you are even contemplating filing for divorce, especially if you have kids – or find yourself in a paternity case – start thinking about how you communicate with your ex, in writing, in texts, emails, and even voicemails. Pretend a judge is reading what you are writing or listening to your message.
Before you post that cartoon, or that joke, or that comment, on your social media platform, think about what it would look like blown up in a courtroom as an exhibit. Better yet, maybe delete your social media altogether until your case is done.
Everyone has the 1st Amendment Right to freedom of speech and freedom of expression, and this is not meant to suggest that you should let your ex control your voice. The point of this article is to make you aware of things you can do to protect yourself from anything you have said, or will say, being used against you in your upcoming divorce or paternity case. So be mindful of what you say and do in your communications with your ex, and on social media, to protect yourself.