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Divorce: can written communication be used against you?

When you are going through a divorce, carefully evaluate what you put into writing. What you post on social media, write in an email or send in a text message may be used as evidence against you in family court. That being said, you can also admit written evidence against your spouse if they write something that supports your case. How do family courts use personal written content?


Social media posts

When you post something on social media, it can be viewed by all of your connections. People commonly post pictures of themselves on vacation, indulging in fancy meals or having fun with friends. If you and your spouse are debating alimony payments, certain posts could get you or your spouse in trouble.

For example, your spouse may claim that they are unable to afford the suggested level of alimony payments. Then, they post a photo on social media next to a new luxury car, or indulging in a nice meal at a five star beach resort. This image can be admitted in court as evidence that your spouse does have the financial means to be paying higher alimony payments.

Photos and posts can also show that your spouse may be hiding undisclosed assets during the divorce process.

Text and email

When you send a text or an email, you may think that the recipient in the only person viewing the message. However, anything that you put in writing can be used against you during divorce or custody proceedings. Email and text messages can prove verbal abuse, infidelity and other wrongdoings that could hurt your or your ex-spouse’s case in court.

You need to be careful sending messages about your spouse or the divorce to friends. Friends often know both people in the couple and are caught in the middle of spouses during a divorce. Information that you send to a trusted friend may end up being turned over to your ex-spouse and used against you.

Retrieving written content

During discovery, you or your ex-spouse may be forced to produce email evidence to add to the divorce proceedings. Attorneys can request for computer experts to search through computer files and personal data. They may also subpoena private text messages.

You may not unlawfully access and submit written communication from your ex-spouse. For example, you cannot access their personal computer without authority. If you share a family computer, and naturally have access to their email, you may be able to submit this communication as evidence in court.

When you submit written evidence, you must be able to demonstrate that you were authorized to access the content. Additionally, you must be able to authenticate that the individual actually authored the written evidence.

Divorce proceedings are tricky. Speak with an attorney who can help you navigate the complex laws, and recommend a course of action that is right for you.

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