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Social Networking and Electronic Communications in Custody and Divorce Cases

By Shannon Woods, Esq. of Livesay & Myers, PC


Technology is a wonderful tool to make our lives easier and help us connect with friends across the world, through social networking sites such as Facebook, Myspace or LinkedIn. Technology has allowed instant communication through texting, instant messaging and e-mail. While these technological advances may make our social lives more enjoyable, they can lead to hidden perils during a divorce or custody case.

Social Networking Sites

Posting on a social networking site may seem like harmless fun, but during a divorce or custody case these postings can easily move from the computer to the courtroom. Your time in front of a Judge is limited, and the last thing you want to do is waste time defending the angry wall post you wrote at 2 a.m. or those pictures of you blowing off steam at a friend's party, during your divorce or custody hearing.

A 2009 Time article, Facebook and Divorce: Airing the Dirty Laundry, discussed the use and influence of social networking sites on domestic relations cases and the impact these postings or pictures could have on how the Court interprets your truthfulness, willingness to work with your spouse, and ability to responsibly parent your child.

To avoid an uncomfortable experience in court, always ask yourself before you post, "how would a Judge view this?" Become familiar with your privacy settings on sites such as Facebook and Myspace. Remember that all it takes is one "friend" to print out photos that would portray you in a negative light at court, and you may have created an unnecessary problem for yourself. Check your friends carefully, and if in doubt shut your page down for the duration of your lawsuit. Additionally, always inform your attorney what sites you belong to. This will allow your attorney to confirm that your testimony in Court will mesh with the information that you have provided on the web.

E-mail, Text Messaging and Instant Messaging

There are a lot of benefits to using e-mail, text messaging or instant messaging to communicate with your estranged spouse during a divorce. In cases where parties do not feel comfortable speaking face to face, e-mail or text messaging may allow both parties to relay information about the children, bills, or other necessities. The downside to using e-mail, text messaging or instant messaging programs is the written record that they produce, which could potentially be used against you in Court. Once again, you don't want to waste your precious time in front of the Judge explaining a furious text message or e-mail that you sent your spouse. Thankfully, this situation is easily avoidable. Whenever you text, e-mail, or instant message your spouse, just imagine the Judge sitting behind you and reading every word you type. If you're feeling overwhelmed or angry, walk away from your computer or put down your phone. Drafting e-mails in a word processing program, then saving them to upload and send later, may provide a nice "cooling off" period allowing you to remove content that may hurt your case down the line. By following these simple tips above, you can save yourself time, money, and embarrassment in the courtroom, and help your attorney present your strongest divorce or custody case possible.

Associate Attorney Shannon Woods is a family law attorney at the Manassas office of Livesay & Myers, PC. She has earned a reputation as one of the most formidable trial attorneys in the firm for her skills in the courtroom. Livesay & Myers is a full-service law firm dedicated to providing aggressive representation and personal attention to their clients. The lawyers at Livesay & Myers, P.C. are experienced in handling every sort of family law matter in the Commonwealth of Virginia and represent clients in custody cases in Fairfax, Alexandria, Arlington, Manassas, Woodbridge, Stafford, Fredericksburg and across Northern Virginia.

The attorneys at Livesay & Meyers, PC can be contacted by phone at (540)370-4140 or
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