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Archive for the ‘Social Media’ Category

In a Divorce, Don’t Forget the Details

Posted on September 21st, 2016 by The Red Headed Lawyer

in-a-divorce-dont-forget-the-details

If you look up “what are the most stressful life events,” divorce is second – right behind death of a spouse.

In some ways both are synonymous. Each involves a death of sorts, and there is something else these events have in common. Both will require you to make critical, potentially life-altering decisions at a time when your mental capacity is taxed by stress. But in both cases, the decisions will need to be made quickly and thoughtfully, because most will be irrevocable.

Everyone can list the major decisions involved in a divorce:

  1. Child custody
  2. Disposition of marital home
  3. Visitation
  4. Support payments
  5. Division of major assets/liabilities

These have to get resolved and they are on everyone’s radar from day one. But in the heat of “battle,” don’t lose sight of those other issues that, if left unaddressed, can cause additional expense, emotional pain, and wreck havoc with future relationships.

Credit Cards

Chances are, if you’ve been married for a number of years you have joint credit cards with your spouse. It is often simpler to pay these off before the divorce heats up. It doesn’t really make sense to have your attorney negotiate with opposing counsel over a $300 Target balance, but if you forget, it will need to be on the table. And even when there is no balance, if the card was issued jointly it could be a problem down the road. Call the company to determine how you can remove a currently authorized user. Sometimes it’s fairly easy and sometimes not, but it must be done. Remember that removing a user is better than closing an account completely for credit score purposes, but sometimes you won’t have a choice.

Utilities

This situation will be similar to the credit card scenario. Utilities (including phone, cable and Internet) are often joint obligations. Obviously, whoever is to remain in the house needs to have the control and the liability. So check them – the departing spouse should assure that he/she is no longer connected to the utility accounts. You may to have to jump through a hoop or two to remove a name, but it will be worth it.

Club Memberships

Some club memberships include a credit account. Even if yours doesn’t, at some point you’ll need to separate yourself from your ex so Sam’s, Costco, and others treat you as an individual with (in same cases) a new address. Besides, do you really want your ex to know about your shopping habits?

Netflix, etc.

This can become an issue, particularly if it’s not resolved early before things get heated. Consider what might happen during a custody battle if your viewing habits suddenly became public information. It might be embarrassing, or it could (depending on what you watch) become a morals issue used against you in court to take away your child(ren.) Tread carefully during custody discussions – you don’t want anyone to think your home activities create hazards for children.

Gag Orders

It is common in a settlement agreement to include language stating that one spouse cannot slander or speak badly of the other. This is usually to maintain the relationship with a child or children. But don’t forget that slander can apply to others. What if your ex-spouse decides that his or her new favorite activity is bad-mouthing the person in your current relationship? It’s hard to prove in court, but the parties will know exactly what is happening. Unless it is prohibited, either specifically in the document or by some broader statement, a situation could develop where your friends, relatives, and kids become a sounding board for your ex’s complaints and comments. Don’t let this happen – be sure you protect yourself.

There are many more areas of entanglement that must be severed prior to divorce. Go through your wallet or purse and look at everything – chances are you will find more. Gym memberships, anything that is autobilled like yard service, reward program points – the sooner you address these the better. By paying off bills, separating or closing joint accounts, dropping users, and protecting yourself from torment, you save time and money during your divorce. It is also easier to resolve these issues early before emotions take over.

Feel free to contact us if you have any questions on settlement agreements or divorces.

Who gets custody of the Facebook profile?

Posted on January 21st, 2013 by The Red Headed Lawyer

Original Article by Aisha Sultan for St. Louis Post-Dispatch

When two parents get divorced, it becomes difficult for one parent to try and control what information the other parent can post online about their children. For example, Stacy Thibodeaux found pictures of her children on her ex-husbands Match.com profile, and was furious. She says he simply blocked her from viewing his profile.

Thibodeaux, who has now been divorced for nearly five years and has recently remarried, said she realized she could not control what her ex-husband did with their children’s pictures. But, had it occurred to her during the divorce, it may have been helpful to have established some ground rules about their children’s digital exposure as part of the custody agreement, she said.

The best thing to do is sit down and talk it over with your former spouse, and come to some sort of agreement. That is exactly what Meredith Friedman and her ex-husband did.

“We decided together not to put our kids on Facebook,” she said. He convinced her that it was more of a security issue. Now that their children are older, they do include some family pictures on their pages.

Probably the best advice is to shut down your social media profiles as soon as you begin considering a divorce. That is what Alton Abramowitz, president of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, recommends.

Parents who post questionable pictures that may potentially embarrass a child later might find those same pictures and status updates used against them in court. It speaks to poor parental judgment, he said.

How Social Media Can Undermine Your Divorce

Posted on May 2nd, 2012 by The Red Headed Lawyer

From cadivorce.com posted on April 25, 2012 by salexander. Original Article

The digital lifestyle can have negative consequences and one of which is this: You can sabotage your own divorce case if you aren’t careful about posting on social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter and even the up-and-coming iPhone app, Instagram.

In fact, the AmericanAcademyof Matrimonial Lawyers (AAML) recently released a study that showed more than 80 percent of divorce attorneys have used social media posts (also known as “social networking”) as evidence in divorce court cases in the past six years.

Yes, divorce lawyers all over the country are, more and more, sharing Facebook posts, Twitter tweets and Instagram pics and captions in the courtroom. These “snapshots” into the life of your soon-to-be ex spouse have exposed extramarital affairs and outright lies that can affect everything from spousal support (alimony) to the time your allowed to spend with your children.

In Dishon & Block’s new infographic titled, How Family Law Attorneys Use Social Media Evidence in Court Cases, the above statistics plus some real court cases outline this not-so-surprising trend in divorce. Here are a couple of examples from the infographic:

Belly Dancing Out of Alimony

“McGurk claimed that an accident disabled her during the marriage and that she needed $850 a month alimony from her ex as support. Evidence pulled from Facebook and MySpace showed that four years after the accident, she was an avid belly dancer. The judge accepted this as proof and subsequently denied the woman lifetime support.”

Make It Facebook Official

“In the Stephen and Courtney Gallion case, a widely reported case, the husband had seen some things on their shared computer that made him suspect incriminating evidence would be found in the wife’s social media accounts. The judge ordered the divorcing couple to hand over the passwords to their Facebook and online dating accounts to the opposing counsel.”

See? Social media networking can undermine your divorce (or prove your point!). So, what can you do about it today?

What Can I Do About Social Media and My Divorce?

One thing lawyers say is crucial to the divorce process is patience and restraint. Sure, it may be very tempting to gush on Facebook about your new crush, but it can also be used as evidence if you must disprove adultery in your divorce case.

What about tweets, Instagram pics and even “check ins” on your smart phone?  They can pinpoint your movements that can build a case to your very own guilt! And that’s not good in any court action.

Most divorce lawyers caution their clients to be rather anonymous during this time. This isn’t just flippant advice. Remember, you may feel like you are flying (as in partying) after you’ve decided to separate from your spouse, but do you really want to capture all the flying-too-high moments too?

Social media evidence can jeopardize not only your court case, but also affect your child custody rights and future ability to co-parent with your ex spouse. Here are some more tips:

Don’t brag. Think twice about “bragging” to your ex via any social networking post. Party pics can get you in trouble in more ways than just one.

Block your ex. Block your ex spouse from all your social media sites and consider blocking or limiting availability to certain family, friends and colleagues who are sympathetic to your ex spouse.

Change your passwords and protect your digital equipment. It is possible your ex spouse has or had access to your laptop or smart phone and can hijack passwords and even install spyware software. First, take the time to change all your important passwords. If you suspect spyware or are just curious, you can take your laptop or smart phone to a spyware detection specialist.

Stop checking in and geotagging. Don’t let everyone know your whereabouts during this sensitive time in your life. It’s time to chill out on any location services software such as “check ins” on your iPhone or with Instagram’s newfangled “geotagging” capabilities.

It may not be fun, but be wary before, during and after divorce about how your ex spouse, friends and family members (and a judge!) may feel about all of your social networking posts.

For more information on social media and divorce, see Texts, Spyware, Social Media and Divorce.