If you are involved in a law suit and you want to wreck your case be sure to post your life on social media. Oh the fun and interesting ways the opposing party can surprise you with your social media posts! You can be certain of severe damage to your case when the other party produces print-outs of your Facebook page. Here are a few examples. No names or identifying information are used herein, but the stories are powerful illustrations of what not to do.
Last week I was in negotiations with the opposing counsel and making progress on behalf of my client. Basically my argument was that since my client is the sole bread-winner for his household and is self-employed, any time he spends in court is time he isn’t making money in his shop. I was making headway until the opposing party produced pages and pages of screen shots from my client’s Facebook page. These photos showed my client and my client’s spouse lounging by the pool, at the hunting camp, at their kids’ baseball games, and more. I want to stress that none of the photos showed my client doing something that was even questionable as far as being lawful or moral. But how could I argue that my client loses money by missing work when here are numerous photos of my client missing work? These innocent photos of my client having a life outside of the legal proceedings cut the legs from under my argument.
Sixteen months ago I had a different client and his soon-to-be-ex-wife very close to an agreed divorce decree. At that time, I represented the husband, and the wife did not have a lawyer. My client was wanting to negotiate a divorce as easily, inexpensively, and as painlessly as possible. We were within 8-10 days of being able to finish the divorce. Then the wife became aware from a Facebook post that my client had a new lady in his life. I know this because the wife quickly retained counsel, and the divorce has been a grueling, expensive fight ever since the first photo of my client and his new girlfriend was posted on Facebook.
Of course I advise my clients not to date until their divorce is final and complete. But it should be noted that this divorce was filed because of infidelity on the part of the wife. Yes, the wife was cheating on my client to start with, and we were still near an agreement to settle the case. But when the cheating wife discovered my client had a new love interest she became antagonistic, and any agreement was out the window. Now, sixteen months and over $40,000.00 later their divorce is almost done. My client’s appearance on social media moving on with his life caused over a year of expensive litigation.
One last example: I had a custody battle for a client a couple of months ago. The results of the trial were not favorable for my client and the children in the case due to circumstances outside the control of my client. Sadly, the law can sometimes be harsh. But before my client and I had the opportunity to explain to the children the major life changes they were about to experience, the opposing party posted all about the decision on Facebook. The children knew there was a hearing that day, and were monitoring social media while at school. They were devastated by the news and melted down at school. The parent who posted the results supposedly cares for the children, but his callous, thoughtless posting hit the kids like a ton of bricks.
As always, this essay is intended to be educational in nature and is not legal advice. If you are facing a legal challenge, I encourage you to seek competent legal representation. But during the pendency of your case, be ULTRA careful about what gets posted on Facebook or other social media. This advice applies to your friends and family as well because a post about your case by a friend or family member can be just as damaging as your own post. Even simple photos of you moving on with your life can come back to bite you. Facebook membership is free, but the consequences are not.
For more information on this or other topics, see www.youngblood-law.com.
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