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Keep Social Networks Out of Your Divorce

Tuesday, 12 October 2010 00:00

By Jennifer M. Paine

Attorney, Cordell & Cordell

Note: This is part 2 of a two-part series on the dangers of social networking on your divorce case. Part 1 addressed how e-admissions on social networks can hurt your divorce case.

What Should I Do To Avoid These Admissions: Old School It

The best thing to do is old school it – quit the texting and tweeting and updating altogether. However, be careful closing your accounts and thoroughly discuss your plans with a lawyer because some courts punish you for destroying e-evidence.

Do not update your accounts, post pictures, talk about your case, or do anything but leave those accounts alone. Talk to someone you trust privately and preferably in person, out of others’ earshot and without writing anything down.

If you are too connected to your social network to quit, however, keep these tips in mind:

  • Never post pictures of your new car, clothes, trips, etc.:  Your judge or jury is interested in seeing how you live. A few hours’ testimony is helpful but not nearly as impactful as a few pictures of you driving a new car or posing on the beach during your vacation. If you claim you cannot pay your spouse’s attorney fees, spousal support or child support,  posting hot-shot pictures showing off new purchases are a death blow.
  • Never assume your spouse is not a friend: Your spouse will read what you post. She will use a fake friend or a friend-of-a-friend, she could send a subpoena or she may compel you to print all of your postings (with a penalty of jail time for contempt if you refuse). Unless she has committed fraud or has intercepted electronic communications in violation of federal law, those statements will come into evidence to hurt you.
  • Never type immediately before or after your court appearance: Court appearances are stressful, and when the event or results are not ideal and/or are confusing, you will want to rant.
  • Never make new e-friends: New "friends" are a cheap and easy way to spy on a spouse. Avoid adding friends you do not know, have not spoken to in years, or know through your spouse. They have probably been sent to spy on you.
  • Never type without thinking, "How will this sound in court?": Think about every statement you make and ask yourself, "Would this sound bad in court?" and "How can I make this sound good, yet be sincere?" For example, forget, "I’m sorry I spent the weekend with Shelly and not the kids." Go with, "I’m sorry I had a momentary lapse in judgment; I am usually so focused on spending the weekend with the kids, as I have repeatedly during our marriage."

When in doubt over that new post, skip "ENTER" and press "DELETE." Otherwise, you could spend thousands fighting a case not over property and testimony, but a la Jerry Springer over texts and tweets.

Note: This is part 2 of a two-part series on the dangers of social networking on your divorce case. Part 1 addressed how e-admissions on social networks can hurt your divorce case.


Jennifer M. Paine is an Associate Attorney in the Detroit, Michigan office of Cordell & Cordell. She is licensed to practice in Michigan, and has been admitted pro hac vice in Illinois, Ohio, and the United States Court of Federal Claims.

Ms. Paine received her BA in English and Mathematics from Albion College and graduated Summa Cum Laude. She received her Juris Doctorate from MSU College of Law and graduated Summa Cum Laude.

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