Social media: think before you post

social media postFor all of the good that social media brings, it has the ability to sink a family law or divorce case with one post. When you are going to make a post, you should think, what does this post say to the Court? Who is the audience of people who will read my post?

Custody battles and divorces are stressful and are rarely fair. You will experience every emotion there is at just about any moment. That does not mean you should post about them. It is okay to get angry, it is okay to get upset or to feel hurt. Controlling those emotions and reactions is part of being a responsible adult and can be crucial for a case. It is imperative that a party has outlets for their emotions other than social media.

Party’s who understand technology are at a major advantage. This goes beyond financial statements and phone records. Social media technology has enhanced the ability to capture a moment and freeze it in time. In an instant, a party can create a screenshot of a lapse in judgment that may have only been posted for a few seconds. No apology post can explain it away because the damage has already been done. Party’s need to be aware that any one of your friends can give evidence to the other party. Even privatizing your posts will not protect you, and can actually hurt you. In other words, judgment, fitness and capacity are now able to be viewed for the over poster around the clock.

A party really needs to think before they post. Be it a check-in, a photo, a meme, anything that is shared through social media, a party must ask, what would the Judge in my case think if they saw this? Treating every post as if the judge is going to see it, is a good policy. Courts only get a snapshot of a party’s life, make sure the snapshot is accurate and paints you in a positive light.

A quick guide of posts not to make: posts at a bar or with alcohol; posts ripping or blaming the other parent or the court; posts that are vague or passive aggressive; posts about your mental health; posts about your children being a drag; and for divorcees, posts of a date with someone other than the person you are divorcing. It is still adultery until the divorce is finalized.

The best policy is to not post at all, or to focus solely on positive things. This may seem like common sense, but the amount of Facebook posts, Tweets, Snaps, Instagram posts and more that are shown in court continue to grow, and not because opposing counsels are trying to say how amazing a mother the party is.

Social Media is not a place to air dirty laundry. Courts view that as irresponsible and poor judgment. Two traits that do not reflect well in most cases.

So remember, think before you post, comment, share, tag, tweet, snap or what have you, and then, don’t do it.

 

What is Advocacy

Dean TobeI received my quarterly issue of the Baylor Law School Docket Call alumni magazine. This issue was great with several interesting points. My favorite part was Dean Brad Toben‘s column on advocacy. He says, “One of the fundamental principles of a lawyer is to serve as an advocate. Advocacy is standing up for your client, fighting for your client, and protecting your client’s rights.”

He goes on to point out examples of lawyers throughout history that have represented clients who might have had issues distasteful to society, but served them anyway simply because everyone deserves an advocate. He cites to John Adams who represented the despised British soldiers in the aftermath of the Boston Massacre. Adams knew he would be scorned by society, his law practice would be impaired, and he would endure hardship. He did it anyway.

Did you know that Baylor Law School ranks 3rd in the country for trial advocacy according to the U.S. News & World Report and 51st in the country for Best Law Schools? Read Baylor’s press release here. Baylor is the only Texas law school even in the Top 10 for trial advocacy category!

Here at O’Neil Wysocki we have three Baylor lawyers on staff. We love Baylor and appreciate the trial advocacy skills we learned there! Sic ’em Bears!

What do April 1st and April 15th have in common? Summer designations!

DadAndDaughterWalkingOnBeach185To some, April 1 and April 15 mean nothing more than practical jokes and another day of the month. To others, they are the dates by which one parent must give the other parent notice of the summer plans. While some may not want to plan their summer so early in the spring, it is imperative that parents that are subject to these arbitrary dates be mindful of them as they approach.

Standard Possession Order

The Standard Possession Order in the Texas Family Code provides that the non-custodial parent provide notice to the other parent of their summer designation by April 1. If designation is not made [in the case of the thirty-day summer possession], then the default provides that that parent will be designated the month of July. After the April 1 designation is made or defaulted, the custodial parent must make their summer designations by electing – (1) one weekend within the non-custodial parent’s extended summer possession to have the child from Friday to Sunday, and (2) one weekend of the non-custodial parents’ otherwise first, third and fifth weekends in the summer that they are entitled to trump, so to create their extended summer possession.

While the foregoing is what the Standard Possession Order [within 100 miles of the primary residence of the child] provides for, each possession order may have its own nuances that may affect the summer designations.

Custom Possession Orders

If you do not exercise a Standard Possession Order as described above, chances are that there are still summer possession provisions in your order that includes dates by which notice has to be given; all too often, these dates are also April 1 and April 15. Be sure to read the summer possession provisions of your order as some possession orders alternate even-year and odd-year elections, and some possession orders do not have default dates for failure to give notice. In the case where the order does not include default dates for failing to give notices, some courts have deemed the failure to give notice as a waiver of that year’s summer possession.

Notice

Be sure to read the entire order and provide notice in the manner specified in the order. Notice may be limited to or inclusive of any of the following methods for delivery – hand-written notice, e-mail, text message, mail or co-parenting messaging services (i.e. Our Family Wizard).

Reliance

Once notice is given, through April 1 and April 15, both parents are entitled to rely on those notices for each period of possession stated. The parent receiving notice [unless otherwise stated in the order] does not get to veto the notice and summer election of the parent sending notice. Both parents must acknowledge the notices provided by the other parent and surrender possession accordingly or they could be subject to being held in contempt for withholding possession.

Controversial subject: noncustodial parent possession over an infant

infant and fatherArizona State University has weighed in on a controversial subject – the quantity and quality of access of a noncustodial father to an infant child. “New research from Arizona State University shows that children, no matter what their age, benefit from having time with each parent that includes sleepovers at each home,” the article says. (See Overnights with dad benefits kids of divorce – no matter their age)

The study entitled “Should Infants and Toddlers Have Frequent Overnight Parenting Time with Fathers? The Policy Debate and New Data” was published February 2, 2017 in the American Psychological Association Journal of Psychology, Public Policy and Law.

ASU Associate Professor of Psychology William Fabricius, and lead author of the study, says that overnight parenting time with fathers during infancy and toddlerhood “causes no harm to the mother-child relationship” and actually it appears to benefit the children’s relationships with both mother and father. “Children who had overnights with their fathers when they were infants or toddlers had higher-quality relationships with their fathers as well as with their mothers when they were 18 to 20 years old than children who had no overnights,” Fabricius said.

The study was co-authored with ASU graduate student Go Woon Suh. The study revealed that the amount of parenting time small children had with their fathers when they were older did not makeup for the overnights they missed during their first few years. The increase in overnights during infancy and toddlerhood matched an increase in the strength of the bond between the father and their grown children. The findings were not changed depending on the level of conflict between the parents or whether the overnight parenting with the father was by agreement or over the objection of the mother.

“Having to care for their infants and toddlers for the whole cycle of evening, bedtime, nighttime and morning helps dads learn how to parent their children from the beginning,” said Fabricius, who studies father-child relationships and the impact they have on the child’s health and well-being. “It helps dads and babies learn about each other, and provides a foundation for their future relationship. Other studies have shown that programs that encourage married dads to take more responsibility for infant care help those dads learn better parenting skills, and we think that the same kind of thing happens when divorced dads have overnight parenting time.”

The mother-child relationships were improved when father’s had overnights, presumable because of the decrease in stress associated with sharing the responsibilities.

These findings differ from the position of many family court judges. In Texas, there is no presumption as to what the parenting time schedule should look like for infants and toddlers. Some judges have a restrictive view that a father’s parenting time should be frequent and limited with an infant based on research studies about memory development of infants. A common possession schedule under this view might look like this:

Children Under Six Months of Age:

  • Weekdays: On Wednesdays and Fridays of each week from 6:00 p.m. until 8:00 p.m. that same day.
  • Sundays: On Sundays of each week from 4:00 p.m. until 6:00 p.m. that same day.
  • Alternative Times: For three periods of two hours each during any seven-day period, with no more than two days between periods of possession whenever possible.

Children Between Six Months & Eighteen Months of Age:

  • Weekdays: On Wednesdays and Fridays of each week from 6:00 p.m. until 8:00 p.m. that same day.
  • Sundays: On Sundays of each week from 2:00 p.m. until 6:00 p.m. that same day.
  • Christmas: From Noon until 4:00 p.m. on Christmas Day each year.
  • Thanksgiving: From Noon until 4:00 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day each year.
  • Birthday: From 6:00 p.m. until 8:00 p.m. on the child’s birthday each year.
  • Alternative Times: For two periods of two hours each and one four hour period during any seven-day period, with no more than two days between periods of possession whenever possible.

Children Between Eighteen Months and Three Years of Age:

  • Weekdays On Wednesdays and Fridays of each week from 6:00 p.m. until 8:00 p.m. that same day.
  • Sundays: On Sundays of each week from Noon until 6:00 p.m. that same day.
  • Christmas: In odd-numbered years from Noon until 6:00 p.m. on December 26th of each year. In even-numbered years from Noon until 6:00 p.m. on December 25th of each year.
  • Thanksgiving: In odd numbered years from 10:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day each year.
  • Birthday: From 6:00 p.m. until 8:00 p.m. on the child’s birthday of each year.
  • Alternative Times: For two periods of two hours each and one six hour period during any seven-day period, with no more than two days between periods of possession whenever possible.

Children Three Years of Age and Older:

  • Standard Possession Order.

Other Texas judges believe the standard possession schedule should apply to infants and toddlers. Even other judges have been known the order equal parenting time for both parents no matter the age of the child. This issue is very controversial and emotional for mothers and fathers.

Texas Family Code sec. 153254 provides the factors for a court to consider when determining an access schedule for a young child:

A) The court shall render an order appropriate under the circumstances for possession of a child less than three years of age. In rendering the order, the court shall consider evidence of all relevant factors, including:

  1. the caregiving provided to the child before and during the current suit;
  2. the effect on the child that may result from separation from either party;
  3. the availability of the parties as caregivers and the willingness of the parties to personally care for the child;
  4. the physical, medical, behavioral, and developmental needs of the child;
  5. the physical, medical, emotional, economic, and social conditions of the parties;
  6. the impact and influence of individuals, other than the parties who will be present uring periods of possession;
  7. the presence of siblings during periods of possession;
  8. the child’s need to develop healthy attachments to both parents;
  9. the need for continuity of routine;
  10. the location and proximity of the residences of the parties;
  11. the need for temporary possession schedule that incrementally shifts to the schedule provided in the prospective order under Subsection (d)[The Standard Possession Order] based on: a) the age of the child; or b) minimal or inconsistent contact with the child by a party;
  12. the ability of the parties to share in the responsibilities, rights, and duties of parenting; and
  13. any other evidence of the best interest of the child.

See my prior blog posts:

One Size Does Not Fit All: Possession for Children Under Three

One Size Does Not Fit All: Possession for Children Under Three Part 2

Stages of grief in losing a relationship to divorce

kubler-ross grief cycleOften I am reminded of the grief and loss that spouses must go through emotionally while I handle the legal aspects of the divorce. Sometimes, clients have already processed through the grief before they come to us and their point of acceptance makes handling the divorce from a logical, business standpoint much easier. However, frequently, the divorce comes as a surprise to one spouse and they have to work through the grief while also processing the legal side. These people are usually much more emotional about the divorce and uncertain about their future. Decision-making is difficult because they are processing so much. These people often process through the stages of grief concurrently with the stages of the divorce. There are even times where a person remains in so much denial that they don’t enter the stages of grief over the loss of the marriage/spouse until the divorce is final.

According to Elisabeth Kubler-Ross in her 1969 groundbreaking book On Death and Dying there are 5 stages of grief and mourning that are universally experienced by people from all walks of life, including the loss of a close relationship. People may work through their bereavement in a different order, spending more or less time at each stated.

Denial and isolation

The first reaction to loss of a relationship or other form of loss is to deny the reality of the situation. This acts as a defense mechanism to buffer the immediate shock of the loss. It carries a person through the first wave of pain.

Anger

As the denial wears off, reality sets in. Anger is an intense emotion that stems from vulnerability. Sometimes anger is directed inappropriately, like at  the lawyer who is trying to help the person process the divorce.

Bargaining

The normal reaction to the feeling of helplessness and vulnerability that loos brings is the need to regain control. Bargaining with your spouse, or God, or the universe in general is a weaker line of defense to protect from the painful reality. A person may try to say, “God I promise I will never do ______ again, if you will just save my marriage.” But, frequently, the action the subject of the bargain is not the cause of the breakdown of the marriage relationship, so it doesn’t really help. Or, it may be too little too late.

Depression

Depression is the stage where many people spend the most time in processing grief. There are two types of depression, according to Kubler-Ross. First is the immediate stage of depression, filled with sadness and regret. The other type of depression may be more subtle and longer lasting. This stage involves the release of the emotional ties to the other person.

Acceptance

The last stage of grief is an acceptance of the loss, marked by a calm withdrawal from social interaction. This stage is not to be confused with depression. Acceptance is more of a coping with reality and moving on.

Working through the stages of grief is important – resisting any part of the grieving process can only prolong the natural healing. Allowing yourself to feel the emotions is important, as is allowing others to comfort you through it. But, also remember that people are resilient with a strong survival instinct. Many people endure terrible losses, including divorce, to thrive in the end. Throughout each stage of grief and through the process, remember where there is life, there is hope and where there is hope there is life. Just keep moving forward, one step at a time.

 

Are you ready for divorce?

change aheadBeing emotionally prepared for divorce is a crucial part of working through the process. It is particularly difficult if one spouse is emotionally prepared and the other spouse is not ready yet. If you are not emotionally ready for divorce, then the emotion will be intertwined with the decision-making that must happen to effectively work through the divorce most effectively. Here are some questions to ask yourself to know if you are ready for divorce:

  1. Is there anything else you could do to save your marriage? Rarely is a divorce caused only by the actions of one spouse. Have you said the words “I’m sorry” for the part you played in the breakdown of the marriage? Sometimes those simple words can be a pathway to finding each other again. Would counseling help?
  2. Are you at peace with the decision to divorce and the changes the decision will cause? Can you walk out of the door without anger, frustration, or hurt? Are you ready to make rational life-changing decision, leaving the emotion aside? Is it possible that you are still in love with your spouse?
  3. Have you educated yourself on the divorce process? Do you have a realistic assessment of the process and what to expect from the divorce?
  4. Do you know the economic realities that divorce will bring to your situation? Can you afford to divorce? Are you willing to accept a lower standard of living, if that is necessary to get a divorce? Are you ready to be financially on your own?
  5. Are you ready to partner with your spouse to co-parent your children? Your marriage may be ending, but your relationship as co-parents will continue forever. Can you set aside the marriage issues and work with your spouse to raise your children? Can you keep your kids out of the adult issues?

If you are not ready for divorce, work with your spouse to try to explore any remaining avenues. Unfortunately, filing for divorce only takes one person. So, one spouse may be ready and file for divorce, even if the other spouse is not ready. For the spouse who has to face divorce before he or she is ready, it is hard to get to an emotional place deal with a divorce forced upon you. It is important to work through things as quickly as you can so you can face the divorce rationally.

The Push for Father’s Equality

Scales-of-Justice-Equal-Parenting-writing-smallThere is a bill pending before the Texas Legislature right now to create a presumption of equality between mothers and fathers in spending parenting time with their children after they separate. (2017 TX HB453) Other states have passed similar legislation in recent years.

For many years, there was a legal presumption that favored mothers to have custody of children after separation or divorce. That legal presumption was eliminated in 1974, leaving mothers and fathers on the same footing in the eyes of the law.

(Act of Jan. 1, 1974, 63d Leg., R.S. ch. 543, § 1, 1973 Tex. Gen. Laws 1413, repealed by Act of Apr. 6, 1995, 74th Leg., R.S. ch. 20, § 2, 1995 Tex. Gen. Laws 282, which required a court to disregard the sex of either parent in deciding custody.)

(See No Mommy Presumption for Custody in Texas.)

But, the law still presumes that one parent will be the primary parent, having the children the majority of the time. The other parent would have time with the children according to a standard schedule set out by the Texas Legislature – every other weekend, time during the summer and split of holidays. Even without a presumption in favor of mothers, most of the time, mothers are given the primary designation in Texas with fathers getting the standard weekend schedule.

For many fathers, that is not equal enough under the law.

Texas law does not have a provision for equal time shared between parents. Some judges will consider granting such a schedule in certain situations, but many others want. Some judges have a stated policy that an equal time schedule will never be considered, no matter the particular situation presented. That is the problem that 2017 House Bill 453 aims to prevent.

The Equal Parenting Orders bill was filed in November by state Rep. James White, R-Woodville. A similar bill died in the Texas House of Representatives two years ago.

The Texas Family Law Foundation, a trade group made up of Texas family lawyers, opposed the 2015 version of the bill. See reference here.

A father’s rights group will rally at the Capitol in Austin in support of HB 453 on March 13 starting at 8:30 a.m.

See prior article The trend of shared parenting laws http://www.dallastxdivorce.com/2016/09/articles/children-and-parenting/possession-scheduleparenting-times/the-trend-of-shared-parenting-laws/

See Heinkel-Wolfe, Peggy, Dad joins push for custody reform, Denton Record-Chronicle, February 11, 2017, http://www.dentonrc.com/local-news/local-news-headlines/20170211-dad-joins-push-for-custody-reform.ece

Can I sue my spouse for intentionally harming me or my property?

In civil law, a wrong done by one person against another that could result in legal liability is called a tort. Generally the actor must have owed a duty to the victim of the tort to not harm the person, violated that duty which caused the victim harm. The remedy for a tort is monetary damages.

So, can a spouse commit a tort against another spouse? The answer in Texas is yes. In 1987, the Texas Supreme Court permitted interspousal lawsuits for tort causes of action. Price v. Price, 732 S.W.2d 316 (Tex. 1987). Tort actions can include physical assault or injury, but can also include emotional damage or even property damage. The main challenge with maintaining an interspousal tort suit in the context of divorce is finding a source of funds from which to pay damages. The cost of pursing a tort claim can be greatly outweighed if no source of funds exists from which to fund damages.

Here’s a list of domestic torts from the Fall 2016 issue of the ABA’s Family Advocate article Civil Relief for Uncivil Behavior:

Intentional Torts

  1. Physical assault
  2. Nonphysical assault
  3. Sexual assault
  4. Marital rape
  5. Involuntary deviate sexual intercourse
  6. Intentional transmission of a veneral disease
  7. Intentional infliction of emotional distress
  8. Physical stalking
  9. Cyberstalking
  10. False arrest and imprisonment
  11. False imprisonments
  12. Defamation: libel and slander
  13. Battered spouse syndrome
  14. Deceit and fraudulent misrepresentation
  15. Child abuse
  16. Child molestation
  17. Interference with parent-child relationship
  18. Kidnapping, child-snatching, and abductin
  19. Child enticement and harboring
  20. Invasion of privacy
  21. Wiretapping
  22. Eavesdropping and visual prying
  23. Surveillance by shadowing
  24. Public disclosure of private facts
  25. Alienation of affections
  26. Interference with family relationship
  27. Interference with marital relationship
  28. Criminal conversation
  29. Seduction
  30. Breach of promise to marry
  31. Fraudulent inducement to marry
  32. Fraudulent inducement to cohabit
  33. Fraudulent inducement to continue marital relationship
  34. Fraudulent inducement to procure settlement agreement
  35. Fraudulent inducement to admit paternity
  36. Fraudulent promise to impregnate
  37. Fraudulent misrepresentation of birth control practice
  38. Malicious prosecution
  39. Abuse of process
  40. Vexatious litigation
  41. Intentional spoliation of evidence
  42. Breach of fiduciary duty
  43. Fraudulent conveyance
  44. Unjust enrichment
  45. Conversion
  46. Third-party transmission of sexual disease
  47. Intentional interference with custodial rights
  48. Failure to report evidence of child abuse
  49. Incest
  50. Abuse of sexual contact
  51. Sexual exploitation
  52. Female genital mutilation
  53. Blackmail
  54. Extortion
  55. Wrongful death
  56. Professional malpractice
  57. International child abduction
  58. Interference with parent-child relationship
  59. Harassment
  60. Molestation
  61. Violation of a criminal statute
  62. Aiding and abetting tortious conduct
  63. Intentional enlistment of a public safety officer

Electronic Torts

  1. Invasion of privace: intrusion upon seclusion
  2. Invasion of privacy: public disclosure of pirvate facts
  3. Wiretapping
  4. Interception of emails
  5. Accessing stored emails
  6. Video surveillance
  7. Non-videosurveillance
  8. Cell phone wiretapping
  9. Extension phones
  10. Vicarious consent doctrine
  11. Privacy at home
  12. Privacy at work
  13. Privacy in public (eavesdropping)
  14. Discarded trash
  15. Breachofcomputer security
  16. Pen register/trap-an-trace device
  17. Unlawful access of stored communications
  18. Illegal divulgence
  19. Unlawful installation of a tracking device
  20. Stalking, electronig and cyber

Property Torts

  1. Trespass to land
  2. Trespass to chattels
  3. Conversion
  4. Detinue
  5. Replevin
  6. Trover

Dignitary Torts

  1. Defamation
  2. Libel
  3. Slander
  4. Invasion of privacy
  5. Breach of confidence
  6. False light
  7. Publication of private facts
  8. Abuse of process
  9. Malicious prosecution
  10. Alienation of affections

Economic Torts

  1. Fraud
  2. Tortious interference
  3. Conspiracy
  4. Restraint of trade

Nuisance Torts

  1. Private nuisance
  2. Public nuisance

Negligence Torts

  1. General negligence
  2. Negligence per se
  3. Negligent entrustment
  4. Negligent handling of animals
  5. Negligent hiring
  6. Negligent infliction of emotional distress
  7. Negligent misrepresentation

Duty to Visitor Torts

  1. Attractive nuisance
  2. Trespasser
  3. Licensee
  4. Invitee

Strict Liability Torts

  1. Strict liability
  2. Ultrahazardous activity

 

Beware of fake text message evidence

fake textThe hashtag #altfacts has become popular recently after a Trump spokeswoman offered “alternative facts” to a news report. Many assert the alternative facts are, actually, falsehoods.

Texas divorce lawyers face “alternative facts” frequently. Sometimes, people interpret a situation differently, making the alternative facts more about their perception, not factual falsities. On the other hand, facts that are verifiable and not subject to interpretation may lend to alternative versions being actually false.

One situation that has arisen in divorce cases across the country involve cell phone apps that create fake text messages or other forms of fake electronic communications. Once you select an app that specializes in fake text messages, it is as simple as entering the cell number to send the text to, create the content of the message and hit send.

Fake texts hit the news recently in the Johnny Depp v. Amber Heard divorce. Heard alleged that Depp’s assistant sent her test messages detailing Depp’s remorse for abusing her. However, Depp’s personal assistant claims that the texts were “doctored” and that he never sent them. The police declined to file charges against Depp, citing no physical signs of abuse were observed on the night she made the claims. (See Johnny Depp and Amber Heard divorce update: police find no evidence of assault, abuse text messages ‘heavily doctored’?)

Another case in California resulted in criminal charges being filed against a party stemming from her creation of fake emails to use as evidence in a custody case. Father’s new wife sent herself abusive emails which appeared to come from the Mother, expressing anger at the new wife about the child. The emails were used in the custody case to support Father’s opposition of Mother’s request for additional time with the child. After Mother lost her custody case, she hired an investigator who discovered the falsity of the emails and linked them to an IP address belonging to the new wife. The new wife was charged criminally under a California statute that made it a crime to prepare a false document with the intent to produce it in a judicial proceeding with fraudulent or deceitful purpose. The new wife was convicted. (see California appeals court upholds conviction for fake e-mails)

This isn’t the only case of a criminal conviction for fake messages. Another woman in California was sentenced to a year in jail after being convicted of sending hundreds of threatening text messages to herself in an attempt to get her former boyfriend arrested by blaming him as authoring the messages. The woman filed a report with the police following her breakup. In fact, the police discovered that the woman used a pre-paid cell phone she purchased in the boyfriend’s name to send herself the texts. (see Woman jailed for texting threats to herself)

Using text messages in court requires proof of a strenuous predicate. First, the texts must be preserved as evidence by taking screen shots or finding another method of saving the entire conversation to be admitted at trial.

The biggest hurdle for using texts as evidence is to authenticate  the source of the message – for the judge to determine whether the texts were genuinely written, sent, or received by the parties and that they contain the full conversation. Texts can be authenticated by the other party admitting they are genuine, a witness who saw the message created or sent, circumstantial proof like from telephone company records, or “reply authentication” where a reply text is deemed authentic because it’s clearly in response to the message sent.

Lastly, text message evidence must overcome a hearsay objection as being out of court statements offered in court for the truth of the statement – which are inadmissible. A hearsay text can only come in as evidence if they fit in an exception – such as a statement by a party to the suit.

Other hurdles to admissibility of text messages in court may also include relevance, best evidence, and prejudice.

Because it is so easy to fake text messages and other types of electronic communications, courts should be extremely wary of allowing such evidence at trial and relying on it exclusively for substantive decisions in family law matters. Further, lawyers should be cautious about using such communications as probative of the requested relief to avoid propounding false evidence in court. At a minimum, allegations made where electronic communications are to be used as supportive evidence should have alternative methods of proof as well.

Should you change your name in your divorce?

mynameYou’ve been known as “Mrs. So-and-so” for a long time during your marriage. You went by a different name prior to your marriage. Who should you be after your divorce?

Many women see their married name as a tie to the man they want to be done with, so they want to be rid of the name when they are rid of the man. Many ex-husband’s want their name back, as if it is a possession, because of the bad feelings from the divorce.

Many women want to keep the same name as their children because it is easier when dealing with schools and travelling. Also, many women build up a professional reputation during the marriage using the married name, which they want to keep after the divorce.

The bottom line is that the choice to change the name or keep the married name is the woman’s choice alone.  The husband has zero say in which choice she makes. Each woman may have her own good reasons why she makes her choice.

 

See related article: The Name Game

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