Electronic Evidence: Friend or Foe?

SMRL Law Firm serving Sarasota County, Bradenton, Lakewood Ranch, North Port, Venice, & throughout the state of Florida

The vengeful message designed to let your ex know exactly how evil he/she is, and why you are better off alone. Everyone who goes through a break up has been tempted to do it, and every family law attorney in the country warns against it.

Whether it’s a picture flaunting a new love interest, a text battle over who has the tougher lawyer, or a ten page manifesto about how your ex has ruined your children’s lives, it is not worth it. That moment of feeling powerful will be a distant memory when you are in court trying to convince a seasoned judge that you can successfully co-parent with the same person you attacked so viciously.

A wise man once said that the “e” in email stands for evidence. Never put anything in an email that you would not want a judge to read. A classic example is the husband who did not want to pay child support, so he sent his wife an email stating that he had “signed away his rights” to the children. That turned out not to be true. It also was not a good way to impress the judge when he found himself in court a year later in a custody battle.

One nasty text or email can do more damage to your case than adverse testimony from any psychologist or child specialist. The reason is simple: it destroys credibility. You can find the perfect court outfit, bring ten witnesses who will tell the court that you are the most stable, loving and patient parent they have ever met, stay calm during a brutal cross-examination, and all that goes out the window when the judge sees that six months ago you told your co-parent that he/she is a horrible person who would never see the children again.

The perils of electronic communication do not only impact people with children. If you are fighting over alimony, it is never, ever a good idea to post pictures of your Las Vegas divorce celebration extravaganza on Facebook for the world (and your ex) to see. All of those supportive comments and “likes” will not feel so good when the judge finds that if you can afford a suite at the Bellagio, you can afford to pay more in alimony. If you absolutely must show off the new Louis Vuitton bag your new boyfriend bought you to the Facebook world, at least have the common sense to change your privacy settings. Be weary of friends who “don’t want to take sides”- you would be amazed how frequently they will share your Facebook business with your ex “to be fair”.

Writing can help organize your thoughts and heal the deep wounds created by the divorce. Do yourself a favor and keep that writing in a private journal. If your attorney asks you to keep a journal, it may be protected by work product privilege and you can avoid having to explain it to a courtroom full of strangers.

Sarasota Attorney Amanda King focuses her practice on Family and Marital Law. Please contact the Family Law Attorneys of Syprett Meshad at (941) 365-7171 to schedule a consultation.