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.

 

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Photo of Michelle O'Neil Michelle O'Neil

Michelle May O’Neil has 27 years’ experience representing small business owners, professionals, and individuals in litigation related to family law matters such as divorce, child custody, and complex property division. Described by one lawyer as “a lethal combination of sweet-and-salty”, Ms. O’Neil exudes…

Michelle May O’Neil has 27 years’ experience representing small business owners, professionals, and individuals in litigation related to family law matters such as divorce, child custody, and complex property division. Described by one lawyer as “a lethal combination of sweet-and-salty”, Ms. O’Neil exudes genuine compassion for her client’s difficulties, yet she can be relentless when in pursuit of a client’s goals. One judge said of Ms. O’Neil, “She cannot be out-gunned, out-briefed, or out-lawyered!”

Family Law Specialist

Ms. O’Neil became a board-certified family law specialist by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization in 1997 and has maintained her certification since that time. While representing clients in litigation before the trial court is an important part of her practice, Ms. O’Neil also handles appellate matters in the trial court, courts of appeals and Texas Supreme Court. Lawyers frequently consult with Ms. O’Neil on their litigation cases about specialized legal issues requiring particularized attention both at the trial court and appellate levels. This gives her a unique perspective and depth of perception that benefits both her litigation and appellate clients.

Top Lawyers in Texas and America

Ms. O’Neil has been named to the list of Texas SuperLawyers for many years, 2011-2018, a peer-voted honor given to only about 5% of the lawyers in the state of Texas. In 2014-2018, Ms. O’Neil received the special honor of being named by Texas SuperLawyers as one of the Top 50 Women Lawyers in Texas, Top 100 Lawyers in Texas, and Top 100 Lawyers in DFW. She was named one of the Best Lawyers in America for 2016 and received an “A-V” peer review rating by Martindale-Hubbell Legal Directories for the highest quality legal ability and ethical standards.

Author and Speaker

A noted author, Ms. O’Neil released her second book Basics of Texas Divorce Law in November 2010, with a second edition released in 2013, and a third edition expected in 2015.  Her first book, All About Texas Law and Kids, was published in September 2009 by Texas Lawyer Press. In 2012, Ms. O’Neil co-authored the booklets What You Need To Know About Common Law Marriage In Texas and Social Study Evaluations.  The State Bar of Texas and other providers of continuing education for attorneys frequently enlist Ms. O’Neil to provide instruction to attorneys on topics of her expertise in the family law arena.