Be Careful of Your Social Media and Cell Phone Accounts During Divorce

Put yourself in the following situation and think: “What would I do?” You are a mother of two young girls. Your best friend from college is finally getting married. She asks you to be her matron of honor. Of course, you accept. Not knowing what it would all entail you ask her about ideas for a bachelorette party. Her eyes light up, and a wry smile cracks her face. Before you even hear the words “Vegas, baby” come out of her mouth you know what she is going to say. So, Vegas it is, you suppose.

Not a big deal. Your husband is happy to watch the girls and you’re sure this is no exception. After all, he’s a good dad and the girls always have fun on daddy-daughter days. You tell your husband what the bride wants. He understands. Vegas here you come. Planning the plane tickets, events and everything that comes with the party is a breeze now that you know your husband is on board. Your friend is over the moon excited. You admit to yourself that a Vegas trip is just what you needed after the tough winter and fall your family had. 

Tough times in your marriage

You and your husband have had your fights before. Never one to see eye to eye on most subjects, you always try to meet in the middle. Until recently that is. Now the fights are more intense rather than finding a middle ground it is more “my way or the highway.” That’s been the attitude from both of you, for the record. The days of negotiation and mutual respect have been missing. In their place is a lot of pride getting in the way of things. Not what you want but that’s how it is.

Hoping that the holidays would turn things around you planned to go on a short trip with your husband in January. Unfortunately, the fighting got so bad that month that you couldn’t plan the trip. You both slept in separate rooms. Your girls even noticed the acrimony in the house. Things seemed to be spiraling out of control. You thought about moving out with the girls. Ultimately you decided against it. 

Now it seems like the two of you are doing better. Not doing perfectly by any means but at least doing better to the point where you can stand to be around one another. With any luck you have years of marriage to look forward to. You both are getting back on the same page with raising your girls, too. That’s great considering your oldest is about to enter their teenage years. 

Social media plays a role in your marriage

Like most marriages in 2024, social media has had its role to play in shaping the marriage to this point. Both of you are millennials. The generation raised on social media. The first generation, when you think about it has had social media from the time you were in college through the present. Both you and your husband went to the same college. You can each vividly remember the first time you used social media in those days. Now each of you has an account on all the major platforms. 

This was all fun and games until a few years ago. You reconnected with an old college friend via a social media website. It started innocently enough. Meeting up for lunch on a weekday. That soon transpired to drinks after dinner. Soon enough it was a weekly occurrence. More happened there than you anticipated. Nothing over the top, but you did some things that you promised not to do in your marriage vows. 

You came clean to your husband. He was, of course, shocked. You were too. It was a mistake in judgment you told him. What’s more- you have gotten off social media completely. You would never do something like this again. A lesson learned, and a hard one at that. He believed you. The marriage improved and you had your second daughter. Ancient history, right? Not so fast

It is difficult to remain off social media

You planned to never go on social media again. After all, it nearly cost you your marriage, You weren’t about to let that happen again. Trouble is that you can say one thing but doing it is a whole different level of difficulty. Assuming that you would be able to stay off social media was an incorrect one, to say the least. Four years after the above incident you are back on social media. 

You didn’t exactly make a big production of it to your husband, but he is certainly aware that you are back on. He can’t be too happy about it but then again, he hasn’t brought it up. So, you guess that he is ok with what is happening, and you don’t look back. However, your usage these days is much more benign than it was before. Keeping in touch with relatives and sharing photos of your kids. Nothing more than that. 

Now these tough times in your marriage have you thinking about distractions. Anything at this point is better than living in your failing marriage. You volunteer at your girls’ school every chance you get. You make plans to start taking on more projects at work so you have things to do at night after the kids go to bed. Yes, things have gotten bad enough that you are choosing work over time with your spouse.

Social media in a divorce- the beginning of a case

When you begin a divorce the first thing your attorney does in most cases is to check out your spouse’s social media profiles. Yours too, for that matter. We at the Law Office of Bryan Fagan like to ask our clients to tell us the truth about any issues in their lives that may come up during the divorce. We call this skeletons in the closest conversation. The more you tell us the less we must be surprised at. 

However, social media tends to be a goldmine. A person’s true self tends to come out on social media. We post things from the comfort of our living rooms that we would never say or do in public. However, social media is as public as any time we step out of our homes. It just doesn’t feel that way. Therefore, we let our inhibitions down and go for it. Talking to old friends, commenting on politics, whatever it is we let our true selves show on social media. 

For this reason and others, family law attorneys are especially adept at browsing social media for potential pieces of evidence. Don’t let it confuse you. Attorneys start to look for evidence on social media just as they ask you for information about your opposing party. Social media represents a whole new world of evidence previously unavailable to attorneys in family law. In an area of the law where cases turn on facts more than the law, you should not be surprised that social media use is a huge part of many cases.

Taking a trip to Vegas- what doesn’t stay there

We all know the saying: what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas. Well, not so much. It doesn’t take a social scientist to tell you that this saying is as much about what it doesn’t tell you as what it does. The fact is that what happens in Vegas tends not to stay in Vegas. This could be said of any place these days, however. Social media has a way of coming back to bite people in their rear end. How many celebrities have been affected by their use and lack of awareness of social media?

You talk to your husband before you go. You plan to use good judgment, be there for your friend, and come home from a fun trip in three days. No big deal. He trusts you, he says. Maybe his eyes tell a different story, but he tells you to have fun. You kiss your girls goodbye at the airport and wish him luck with the girls. This is where the story begins. Your trip to Vegas becomes an important checkpoint on your road to divorce.

One of the things that your husband suggested you do at the time of your missteps with fidelity a few years ago was to stop using your smartphone so much. When you think about it, so much of our bad actions these days come in and around our use of our cell phones. We have access to so much on our phones. Without our phones, we would not have the same access to everything the world has to offer. Although some would say, that’s a good thing. 

Social media is a great source of evidence if it can get admitted into the record

A quick word on how social media evidence is used in a hearing or trial. It is not as if you can go to your favorite social media website, download all the photos, or posts you would like, and then email them to the judge. Rather, there is a specific manner and process involved with getting evidence admitted in a hearing or trial. Law students spend at least a year attempting to learn as much as possible about this process. Then attorneys spend a lifetime attempting to master the process. 

The process of offering and then ultimately having evidence admitted into the record of your case takes a firm knowledge of the Rules of Evidence. There is no substitute for knowledge. If you do not know the rules of evidence, you are at a distinct disadvantage in a family law case. Keep that in mind as you attempt to figure out if hiring an attorney is the right move for you. Unless you plan on quickly learning the Texas Rules of Evidence, an attorney is the right person to look to. 

However, practice makes perfect as they say. When you need a lawyer who has a firm grasp on the knowledge of the rules of evidence but also spends their time in court working on those rules then the attorneys with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan are second to none. We know how to work within those rules of evidence to admit what you need admitted having excluded what you need to keep out of the record. Our courtroom experience coupled with our knowledge of the rules is second to none. 

What happened in Vegas?

You make it to Vegas and your plans for a quiet bachelorette party go up in smoke. The weekend was a blur to you. From the moment your feet touched down in Nevada to the time you were wheels up coming back to Texas, you can’t remember much. However, social media is there to provide you and anyone else you know with a reminder of your trip to Sin City. Your friends were kind enough to post photos of you in compromised positions. By the time you got home to check social media, it was too late. 

What was a thought towards filing for divorce now spiraled into a necessity from the standpoint of your husband. He was checking his social media one evening after the kids were asleep and was dumbfounded by what he said. Friends of yours and his were contacting him to check on him. You are embarrassed like never before. At that point, he makes up his mind to file for divorce and take the kids to his brother’s house across town. 

By the time you get home, the house has no people in it. Your front doorbell rings and it is a process server handing you a divorce petition. It is all sinking in now. Your husband had a few days advance notice of what the bachelorette party had become. He took advantage of that warning. Now you are left wondering what to do. How did he know about the events of that party before you could even tell him what you remembered?

Social media and the cell phone- a bad combination for many in divorce

The cell phone feeds into the ease of getting onto social media and the trouble that comes with it. What you find often is that very little good comes from social media use in the period immediately before and during a divorce. Rather, a great deal of bad tends to be found in the world of social media if you are going through a divorce. Do not underestimate how difficult your case becomes when ample social media evidence is found. 

What should you do in this situation? First, talk to your attorney about any evidence that exists in the domain of social media. Even that social media use you think is benign- talk to your attorney about it. Let him or her determine what is and what is not relevant. Do not go into a divorce thinking that you’ve tied up all your loose ends. Stop using social media for as long as your divorce takes. You won’t regret it. 

Think back on your life. Now consider only those parts of your life which involve social media. Are any of them so meaningful to you that you wouldn’t be able to look back on your life the same way had social media not been used? I doubt it. Rather, your life is likely much richer had you never logged into a social media platform. For that reason, consider not using social media or at least curtailing your usage for your divorce.

Interesting in learning how social media impacts divorce? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan

The more you use social media the more likely it becomes a factor in your case. There are no two ways about that. Consider how frequently you use social media and then speak with an experienced attorney with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. Our attorneys are in court as much as any group of family law attorneys. That means we not only understand the Texas Rules of Evidence but have practical experience utilizing them. 

Thank you for choosing to spend part of your day with us here on the blog for the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. We post relevant and interesting insights into the world of Texas family law each day. Our attorneys take pride in serving our clients in court and at the negotiating table. To find out how our office can help you simply get in touch with us today. 

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. Interested in learning more about how your family is impacted by the material in this blog post? Contact us today.

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