In my previous post, The 7 Deadly (Tech) Sins of Divorce – Part 1, we discussed the importance of protecting email accounts and passwords, not reading your spouse’s email and not recording anything without informing them. Here are the remaining four sins to avoid!
4. Sharing Too Much on Social Media
I frequently remind clients not to put in writing or, God forbid, take a picture of anything they don’t want handed to the Judge in an open courtroom packed with interested listeners. The same rule holds true for social media. In a perfect world (we are talking about my perfect world here) a divorcing client would not involve themselves in any kind of social media sharing for the duration of the proceedings. They’d shut down their old accounts and they wouldn’t open new ones. However, we don’t live in a perfect world. People insist on keeping their Facebook accounts and posting to Instagram. If this is you, be very cautious. If you keep these accounts active, please do not denigrate your spouse. If it’s public information, the opposing attorney will find and use it against you.
Also do not post photos (I should be able to stop there, just “do not post photos” – but I know people are compelled) especially the type of photos that show you with a beer in each hand (they will be used against you) or suggesting you have more money than you know what to do with (they will be used against you). Definitely don’t write about how much you hate the Judge (this will definitely be used against you). This caveat deserves an entire post all to itself, so stay tuned. For now, just don’t post or write anything. Reading is fine, posting is not fine.
This tags along with social media and written communications, but deserves its own category. Please resist online journaling and also blogging. Do not journal or blog until the case is done. Opposing counsel will be searching for content you put online, and seeking to use it to their own advantage any way they can. Whether it’s a new recipe or a rant about a work situation, just don’t do it. The less personal information available to the public, the better. No matter what you say, someone can spin it another way. Who knows, even the time you post could somehow be used against you. If your job requires blogging then that’s fine, but please, if it is not how you earn a living don’t do it.
6. Being Careless with Written Communications
Email, texting, IM, PM, Snapchat… the list goes on. This new era of technology has reduced the need for face to face or even phone communication with your soon-to-be-ex-spouse. Most people tell me that this is a good thing! While the new, and not so new, media has its advantages – it is collectively a significant cause for caution.
First, you should be careful how liberally you use any form of written communication because if you say something you shouldn’t (we all do it, even you), it’s going to find its way to the judge or at least to the opposing lawyer. If it’s in writing, it can be preserved forever. Somehow, the nasty-grams you wrote in haste will come back to bite you.
Second, it’s very difficult, sometimes impossible, to read tone. So what? Well, a sarcastic remark could be used against you if someone uses the literal words. “Oh yeah, because you ALWAYS pick up the kids,” might be meant sarcastically by you, then turned around by opposing counsel to show that you admitted your spouse has more responsibility for picking up your kids. On the other hand, sometimes you’re only looking to convey innocuous information or make a neutral suggestion, but your spouse could read your helpful suggestion as criticism and become angry. Whether you should be making suggestions in the first place is fodder for another article! Your piece of innocuous information could be perceived as “fighting words” even if that was not the intent. This can shut down the lines of communication or be converted to the lines of battle. I promise this will happen. And this can get expensive. As much as you may prefer to avoid it, a call is the better bet when communicating, unless you are trying to create a paper trail. In that case, just remember that tone is difficult to convey and everything you say will exist… Forever.
7. Leaving Angry Voicemails
The honorable mention in this category is voicemail. Anything recorded can be played back, both to your spouse’s attorneys or to the court. Annoyed that they were late picking up your kids? Don’t leave a voicemail about it. Irritated that they took the silver tea service when they weren’t supposed to? Don’t leave a voicemail about it. Frustrated that the court proceedings are taking too long? Don’t leave a voicemail about it. Don’t leave a voicemail unless you absolutely have to because the same rules apply – do not say anything you wouldn’t want played back for the audience who will be deciding the rest of your financial life.
In the digital age, there is no erase button. Anything you write online or though your phone is permanent. Any photos you share are permanently out on the net somewhere. Voicemails can be recorded and replayed. Do yourself a favor and use common sense! If you’re guilty of committing any of these sins, make sure you confess to your attorney so that they can help minimize any damage.