Social media is something almost every person of a certain age is involved with. That “certain age” is anywhere from 0-99+. I’m old enough to remember when Facebook came onto the scene in Texas. I was a sophomore in college. My small, liberal arts college just got Facebook a few months after the bigger universities gained access to it. Being able to create a profile, list your favorite things, view pictures, and catch up with people that you hadn’t seen in years was great.
From there, social media went from something consumed by college-aged kids to something consumed by everyone. Your little brother is probably on social media of some sort. Your grandparents are probably on social media of some sort. There are probably more social media accounts in the world on a single platform than there are people in the world. Needless to say, social media is the main way that people stay in touch with one another these days. Even if you are going to meet up with someone in person you may be communicating on the way to one another through social media.
Sometimes social media use can be harmless. Looking up photos from your cousin’s wedding is good fun. Posting a high school photo, tagging the other people in the photo, and then having a “remember when?” conservation is a nice trip down memory lane. However, social media is not always used in this fashion. We know that social media is one of the main ways that divorces start in our country. What began as a harmless social media account being created may end up as a tool to be used in cheating on your spouse or at the very least something used for purposes that you would not want to share with your spouse or kids.
This is what we are going to be discussing here on the blog for the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. Social media use is not something that you should engage in without thinking about the consequences of doing so. While you want to believe that you are having a fun, frivolous conversation with an old friend in private, social media can be anything but that. What social media is so good at is lulling us to sleep when it comes to using their application. The next thing we know we are spending more and more time on there under the impression that we are doing nothing more than chatting with an old friend.
We are going to walk through what it means to use social media and how that usage can become a part of your child custody or divorce case. It should come as no surprise that the more time you spend on social media, the larger social media usage will play a role in your case. There is no telling just how social media evidence could impact your case without first discussing the situation with an experienced family law attorney. The attorneys with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan are here six days a week to discuss your case in person, over the phone, and via video.
Family law attorneys use social media for research purposes
When you hire an attorney (or when your spouse does) one of the first things that an attorney will do is log onto the various social media platforms to learn more about you, your spouse, your family, and the people that you spend your time with. It should come as no surprise that even an attorney can act as a good investigator when it comes to the use of social media. Many people have no filters set up on their profile(s) so even a non-friend/connection can see what you are doing.
If it is your attorney who can view your profile, then this may not be too bad of a thing. Your attorney can help you by telling you what he or she sees that could become problematic. On the other hand, if it is the opposing attorney who sees something questionable about you then their eyes may light up. That photo you thought you had deleted or that post you thought nobody would find can quickly turn into a nightmare for you in the context of your family law case.
A family law case is not the same as a contract dispute, personal injury case, or any other type of legal matter that you may become involved in. The reason is that your divorce relates to your most intimate moments, your family moments, and everything in between. While you may not think about it all that much, the reality of the situation is that you may live a great deal of your life through the lens of social media. Some of you may shy away from posting but if your friends or family members are avid social media users then you may as well share a profile with that person.
What we need to examine today is how social media use and the evidence of that use can come into court and impact your divorce or child custody case. When an attorney is using social media in hopes of locating a profile for you or your opposing party. It is not as if what that attorney finds can be automatically entered into the record in your case, rather, there is a process that revolves around the rules of evidence that will determine whether that evidence can be admitted into the record of your case. Unless the evidence can be admitted then a judge cannot consider it.
Working with an experienced family law attorney can make a tremendous difference between what evidence makes its way into the record and what evidence remains safely away from the judge’s eyes and ears. When you hire an experienced family law attorney with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, for example, you are getting an attorney who spends a great deal of time in court. That experience translates into knowing how to admit evidence which matters for our clients while playing defense against evidence that we would prefer to not find its way into the court record.
This matters so much in a family law case. However, I would bet that you may never have been told anything about this subject before. Our attorneys focus on the details of a case to such a degree that you can focus on your family and your goals for the case. We do not make decisions for our clients, but we do help guide our clients toward better outcomes in their family law cases. It is not enough to simply talk the loudest, have the nicest office, or impress with the best courtroom suit. You have to back it up with skills and knowledge. The attorneys with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan can perform when you need them the most.
When an attorney is looking you up on social media it could be to help you play offense. Or, it could be a cause for your attorney to need to help you play defense. Take a moment to think about your social media use and how it may impact your divorce. It’s no wonder that family law attorneys spend so much time trying to take advantage of every situation they can encounter when it comes to potential evidence for a case. From an attorney’s perspective, evidence on social media is especially helpful because a little effort is needed to locate the evidence.
Having difficult conversations with your attorney
There comes a point in almost every family law case where the client in the attorney have a conversation that neither particularly wants to have. That conversation revolves around a subject matter that can be embarrassing and uncomfortable for the client. Although the conversation is not wanted and is not particularly agreeable to either person, it is still necessary. We call this that’s skeletons in the closet conversation. Our attorneys we’ll work with you to determine what if any, skeletons you have in your closet before your case even begins.
It is better to have this conversation with your attorney at the beginning of a case rather than to need to do so in the middle. Surprising your attorney with bad information can mean putting your attorney in a position where he or she is unable to help you prepare for what you are about to tell them. On the other hand, by talking with your attorney about this material as soon as possible we can give him or her the chance to take the time to better prepare for your case.
When it comes to social media use, this can mean something like showing your attorney the information available online so that he or she can assess it for what it may mean to your case. In some situations, you may find that the evidence you were so concerned with may have very little bearing on your case overall. In this case, you can begin to concern yourself with other portions of the case rather than a social media post or photo that will have little impact overall. If the social media evidence could be impactful for your case, then that gives the attorney time to develop a strategy on how to approach this subject.
What this should tell you is that it is important how you select an attorney. Of the important criteria in a case, having an attorney whom you are comfortable talking to about your case is important. Being able to talk to your attorney about things that are unpleasant, or embarrassing is not uncommon in a family law case. When you are comfortable with talking to your attorney about subject matter like this then you will do so at the beginning of the case. If you are comfortable with the thought of talking to your attorney about this kind of subject matter, then you should think twice before hiring that person.
It is such a benefit to be able to talk with an attorney face to face if possible, in a free-of-charge consultation. You can get to know the attorney better and get a feeling for how you will be approaching the hiring process. It is not necessarily the case that you need to share with the attorney anything about you that is embarrassing in a consultation, but you should be thinking about What it will be like to sit down with his attorney if you choose to hire him and talk about the sensitive subject matter. If you cannot picture yourself doing this then you need to find an attorney with whom you would be more comfortable.
Minimizing the negative impacts of social media in your family law case
With so much at stake in your case, the last thing you would want to do is find out that you are social media usage was a major factor as to why you were not able to achieve an important goal of yours. What you came into your Family law case with as far as your social media habits and exploits cannot be changed. However, if you have not yet started your case then you still have time to make changes and adjust your habits as much as possible.
First, you should determine whether it is a wise idea for you to continue to engage in social media use during your family law case. The fact is that social media usage during a family law case can be risky. One of the main reasons for this is that there is so little to gain and so much you can lose. This could be regarding a family event, work issue, or even a problem that you have with your attorney or the opposing attorney. If your habit is to immediately go to social media when you have an issue or a complaint in life then this can be an especially big problem for you to encounter.
What can be even worse than doing any of those things is to go online and make complaints about a judge. You can go online and perform a simple Internet search for stories involving people who have found out the consequences of posting on social media about the judge in their case. If you don’t think that the opposing attorney will be able to quickly find out about posts like this, you are sorely mistaken. Not only are there likely to be severe penalties for you within the case itself but you will find yourself staring down a circumstance where going before that judge in a hearing or trial would most likely result in a bad outcome.
If you are unable to fully pursue your case due to issues related to foolish social media posts then you have served nobody well including your children. Rather than position yourself in this way you should let common sense take the wheel and forgo using social media for the duration of your family law case. While it is true that you may end up losing out on some connections and relationships during this time that is a much better welcome than to do something at the last minute on social media that ends up seriously harming you and your case.
The reality of the situation is that you will have your entire life to use social media once your case is done. Now that you are engaged in a family law case you should understand that the opposing attorney and your opposing party, we’ll do everything possible to gain an advantage over you in the case. This includes using social media in every possible way. Working through the issues involved in a family law case is difficult enough without having to play defense constantly because of social media use.
Whatever your relationship is like with social media then you should be honest with yourself when it comes to how you use these platforms. If you have a very heavy social media presence, then you should make sure that your attorney is aware of this sooner rather than later. Have those difficult conversations at a point in your case where your attorney can help you understand the potential ramifications and begin to make steps towards planning on how to address those problems.
When you consider that social media use is just one potential area of your family law case then you can see how many moving pieces there are to a family law case in Texas. It is for this reason that we recommend that you work with an experienced family law attorney for the betterment of your case, your life, and your family. Thank you for joining us on the blog post for the Law Office of Bryan Fagan and we hope that you will join us again tomorrow as we continue to share relevant and interesting information about the world of Texas family law.
Questions about the material contained in today’s blog post? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan
If you have any questions about the material contained in today’s blog post please do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. Our licensed family law attorneys offer free-of-charge consultations six days a week in person, over the phone, and via video. These consultations are a great way for you to learn more about the world of Texas family law as well as about how your family’s circumstances may be impacted by the filing of a divorce or child custody lawsuit.