Electronic Communication

How Careless Electronic Communication Can Affect a Florida Divorce

Texts, emails and social media sharing can all be harmful in a Florida divorce; spouses should know how to limit potential damage from these media.

Recent research suggests that social media plays a growing role in influencing divorce settlements. One widely cited American Association of Matrimonial Lawyers survey found that 81 percent of 2013 divorce cases involved evidence drawn from social media. Unfortunately, many spouses in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, still underestimate the dangers of using social media and engaging in other forms of personal electronic communication, such as texts and emails, during a divorce.

It Can Be Unfavorable Evidence in Your Divorce

Many people do not realize that texts, emails and social media activity can be subpoenaed during a Florida divorce. According to Forbes, these private messages, posts and photos can all be admissible in court, and they may have significant financial effects. For instance, comments about work, purchases or upcoming plans can all suggest that a spouse is concealing assets or exaggerating the need for alimony.

Private communications can also affect custody and parenting-time orders. For example, a parent with a lifestyle that comes across as irresponsible or unstable may face an uphill battle to win physical custody. A parent with high levels of animosity toward the other parent may come across as uncooperative or likely to alienate the child, which may reduce the parent’s odds of winning legal custody.

Some forms of electronic communication, such as emails and social media activity, can be especially damaging because messages can easily be taken out of context. Even innocent posts and comments may be misconstrued in a way that harms a divorcing spouse’s chances of reaching a favorable settlement.

Limiting the Damage of Electronic Communications

Considering the prevalence of electronic communication and the potential for information leaks or misunderstandings, most spouses benefit from understanding how to reduce the risk of mistakes. The Washington Times recommends that divorcing spouses take the following steps to avoid costly electronic communication errors:

  • Don’t lash out or post anything in a state of anger. Spouses should wait 24 hours to reconsider before sending an angry message or making negative comments.
  • Don’t assume that private communication will stay private. Mistakes with privacy settings and fall-outs with friends may result in damaging information becoming public.
  • Don’t share anything that would not be appropriate to share with family members, employers or a judge. This simple test should make censoring questionable posts, comments and photographs easier.

Divorcing spouses may even want to consider deactivating their social media accounts and curtailing their use of personal texts and emails for the duration of the divorce. This is the easiest way to protect against inadvertent mistakes.

People with concerns about privacy rights, information shared via electronic media or other factors that may affect the divorce should make sure to speak with an attorney. Our attorneys can provide advice on improving the likelihood of a favorable divorce settlement, even when careless comments and sharing have put a spouse in an unfavorable position.