When we think about online evidence in a Texas divorce case we are, for the most part, talking about social media use. Whether you are a big fan of someone who only uses social media to update your older relatives on the goings-on of your family, social media is a huge part of our lives nowadays. This is not a judgment statement or anything like that regarding my views of social media. All I am trying to communicate is that social media is a major part of most people’s lives these days. That was the case before the pandemic and is almost certainly the case now that we have spent years in some version of a locked down or self-quarantine state. Humans need to communicate with one another and social media acts as one type of communication method for us to employ.

For the most part, social media use can be benign. As I referenced a moment ago, many people use social media simply to post photographs and keep up with extended family. If you have a niece or a nephew that lives multiple states away, but you want to keep up with their baseball season then social media is a great way to continue to remain engaged in their lives. Of course, it does not make up for not being there with them, but it is the next best thing. When we talk about the benefits of social media in the responsible use of social media it almost certainly is in a circumstance where the benefits of using social media certainly outweigh the potential downsides.

However, social media can, and increasingly oftentimes is, a key factor and divorce cases. I have painted a relatively normal circumstance for you involving the use of social media as far as looking up photographs and touching base with your extended family. However, you may be in a situation where social media was used in ways that are much less family-oriented. The trouble with social media if you find yourself in a failing marriage is that social media often is Used to look up old friends in classmates from college and high school. The next thing you know, you may be interacting with the person that you shouldn’t be in the form of a member of the opposite sex.

Even previously harmless activities like socializing with friends can take a turn for the worse if you wind up going through a divorce. Let’s consider an example where you are a person who plays on a recreational softball team. As part of the teams’ social aspects after every game, you and your teammates meet up at a bar or restaurant to chat about the day’s events, the game, and anything in between. Events involving alcohol sometimes tend to, sometimes these meetups to get a little out of hand. As a result, someone on your team always manages to post on social media photos of the day’s events. While many of these photos are lighthearted and not taken too seriously by anyone the reality is that in a different context those photos can be looked at quite differently.

If you were to go through a divorce, then those photographs may be looked at much differently. Consider whether your spouse may allege that you have a problem with alcohol or that you were out having fun while your spouse was working or raising the kids. That’s not to say that this is going to happen to you. However, strange things can happen in a divorce where one spouse tends to exaggerate or embellish certain areas of the other spouse’s life. What you may be left with is a circumstance where you have a great deal of liability in a situation where you did not necessarily need to. Social media is a double-edged sword where the bad end can hurt you, especially during a divorce.

It comes to social media use in a divorce setting not only do you have to consider what the divorce means in and of itself but what the social media use within the divorce means. If you are the party who wants to be able to show a judge social media involving your spouse and we need to know a little bit about the process involved with obtaining social media evidence and then having that admitted into your case. It is not as simple as bringing your laptop to the courtroom and showing the screen to the judge. There is a process specifically oriented towards admitting evidence of a social media nature that your attorney and you will work on throughout your case. For now, I would like to share with you some thoughts on the importance of online evidence in a divorce and what you can do to prepare for it within your case.

If all of this, has you scratching your head to a degree and asking questions about what you are going to do in your case to prepare then you are not alone. Many people that I’ve had the fortune to work with divorce cases ask themselves what they can do to prepare for and manage their divorce cases. Devoting your entire life to a divorce is not good for your mental health, your bottom line, or your sanity. However, you will very rarely find an attorney who was able to do the same. In that case, what is your best option when it comes to getting ready for a divorce case that can impact your finances and the relationship that you have with your children? 

The best place she began looking for answers to that question would be in a free-of-charge consultation with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. Our licensed family law tourneys work every day for people just like you here in our community. You will find this at the negotiating table, in courtrooms, and everywhere in between advocating for our clients. Do not think that you are in this alone or that you have no place left to turn. Rather, by working with one of our experienced family law attorneys you can obtain strong, client-focused, and results-oriented professional representation.

What online evidence means to your divorce

Just as we have seen in every other area of the law, online evidence has become much more impactful and important when it comes to deciding the outcomes of cases like yours. A key point to this discussion is that you need to be able to find an attorney who is skilled at understanding the importance of this type of evidence and being able to utilize it to your advantage. Storing online evidence and documenting it can be things that you assist with period however when it comes to skillfully utilizing this type of evidence in a divorce it is mainly your attorney who will be performing these roles. At that stage there is only so much you can do that can benefit your case.

When you are interviewing attorneys to represent you and your divorce it is worthwhile to ask the attorney about their experience in using digital and online evidence in divorce cases. You should not assume that because an attorney is older or younger than they have any less or more experience in using social media. Even if the attorney is not A frequent user of social media in their personal life, he or she may have a great deal of experience utilizing it in their professional life. Ultimately, this is what you care about. If your attorney can use the social media evidence that you have to your advantage, then ultimately nothing else matters. This discussion begins and ends with their ability to offer evidence of social media posts, messages, and photographs.

Many parts of a divorce may be up for grabs in your case. While everyone’s divorce is a little different in certain regards almost every divorce involves spousal maintenance, child custody, visitation, child support, settlement negotiations, a trial, as well as property and debt division. These are the parts of a divorce where you and your spouse people must make important decisions regarding how to structure your case and ultimately find success through negotiation rather than a reliance upon litigating the case.

Additionally, complex issues regarding your children as well as your finances can enter the picture. If you are a high-income earner, earn income from multiple sources or have specific circumstances involving your children that require a great deal of planning and forethought then parts of your case like the ability to introduce social media evidence into the record can become even more important. Undoubtedly, having an advantage when it comes to social media evidence can be important in determining the outcome of your case. While many factors will go into deciding issues regarding these kinds of subjects it is without a doubt important to be able to manage the case from the perspective of having sufficient evidence to argue the important points related to your case.

On the financial side of things, there may be issues regarding hidden assets, marital fraud, high net worth divorces, and things of this nature. Online or digital evidence can be especially important when it comes to making determinations about how to divide up the community estate. Additionally, if you believe that your spouse is hiding evidence that may be important to be able to access online material such as bank accounts and investments. Once you can get access to this information you are better able to provide documentation and evidence to expert witnesses who can play a significant role in the outcome of your case. You and your attorney may need to hi there an expert witness to help sort out issues of hidden assets and other things of this nature. Key pieces of evidence may be located using online research and other methods.

The importance of online evidence in divorce negotiations

Perhaps even more significant is the potential impact of online evidence during the negotiations in your divorce case. Being able to access material quickly and efficiently online is key to being able to negotiate successful settlements with your spouse throughout the case. This can be seen in being able to access and immediately create a budget for yourself in your household to show the judge. if you and your spouse are attempting to determine how to split up household bills including the mortgage during a divorce then being able to access proof of account balances, savings, and checking account balances as well as other household items online is important. This information may never be used as evidence, per se, but it can and will be important to the negotiation process.

additionally, consider the importance of being able to access online material regarding your retirement savings. The division of retirement savings in a divorce can be one of the most important parts of a case. It is crucial to be able to understand and be able to make settlement offers based on up-to-date information. One of the most frustrating parts of mediation or negotiations, in general, our one party is not prepared in terms of the information they are using to negotiate. 

Using text messages as evidence in a divorce

Although not technically online evidence, the ability to use text message evidence in a divorce is becoming more and more important as test messaging replaces phone calls as the most prevalent use of a cell phone as far as communication is concerned. When we consider text messaging as a form of evidence, I understand that the sheer volume of text messages sent between you and your spouse can be significant. If you are considering a divorce and have hundreds if not thousands of text messages that could be potentially used as evidence and you are not alone. It is certainly not uncommon for a person to sign up as a client with the law office of Brian Fagan and immediately hand over stacks of printed out text messages between themselves and their spouse. The question that we need to ask ourselves is whether this material could potentially be worthwhile as far as being evidence is concerned.

Text messaging can be especially useful as far as being evidence when you consider that texting allows you to oftentimes get an immediate sense of how your spouse feels about a particular subject. This is oftentimes an unfiltered view into how a person feels, good or bad. Many times, we send or reply to a text message without first considering how words come across or can be perceived. For that reason, I would argue text messaging is about as accurate a present sense impression as you can get. Most of us don’t think deeply about what we say in a text message. We simply react to what we see and let the chips fall where they may after that.

As a client, it is a good idea to keep handy text messages like these. You can organize them as much as possible and simply make them available to your attorney. He or she can decide with you whether they are viable as potential sources of evidence for you or against your spouse. What may seem to you as a useful piece of evidence may, in fact, not be worth much. However, you and your attorney can make this determination as a team, but you must be able to submit the evidence and have it available in the first place.

Finally, we can consider emails as another form of online evidence that may be relevant to your divorce. Emails function similarly to last text messages but perhaps allow the rider to have a little more of an opportunity to think about what they are going to write. Emails can be important to your case in that they can potentially show evidence of when a particular piece of property was purchased or other information regarding hidden assets and Community property. Do not underestimate how impactful email can be when attempting to argue whether a particular debtor property item belongs in the community estate or the separatist state.

During a divorce, you need to keep your passwords and other digital information to emails safe. You should even consider changing or updating passwords to your email accounts so that your spouse cannot potentially access them. This is not the same thing as deleting emails or email accounts. What it is doing is protecting information that your spouse does not have access to without a court order. If you have a question about online or digital evidence and you should certainly speak with an experienced family law attorney immediately. Do not make important decisions that could potentially harm your case without having done so.

Questions about the material contained in today’s blog post? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan

If you have any questions about the material contained in today’s blog post, please do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. Our licensed family law attorneys offer free of charge consultations six days a week in person, over the phone, and via video. These consultations are a great way for you to learn more about the world of Texas family law as well as about how your family circumstances may be impacted by the filing of a divorce or child custody case.