Social media can hang you in a divorce


Electronic communications such as texts, email and even posts on social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter are fast becoming the most important pieces of evidence in divorce cases. In fact, 94 percent of 1,600 lawyers recently surveyed by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (AAML) claimed that text messages had increasingly become the most damaging evidence in divorce cases. The same survey shows sharp increases in evidence via texting (62 percent), social media (81 percent) and emails (23 percent). So, how can you protect yourself before and during a divorce?

We suggest you consider the following tips

Protecting your digital assets

The most important thing you can do to protect your digital world is to change all of your passwords on a rotating basis and do not write them anywhere snooping eyes may find them. Rules of thumb for strong passwords are using words not typically associated with you combined with a special character and number.

Not only does this apply to your email and social media accounts, but to especially to the password that “unlocks” your smartphone. As texts have increasingly become the most common form of evidence in divorce cases, these sometimes emotionally-charged messages need to be shielded from potentially prying eyes. We are not advocating dishonesty; but, we understand that there may be occasions where a person engages in communications they later regret. A myriad of life circumstances can cause even the best of us to fall short of our aspirations. We simply advise people to avoid a spiteful or angry spouse from taking unfair advantage of you in a divorce for lapses of judgment you probably regret.

Is snooping software legal?

Passwords are also important for your computer, laptop and new devices such as an iPad. Why? Some spouses try to obtain evidence (or even communications between their spouse and a divorce lawyer) by installing “snooping” or spyware software onto their spouse’s digital devices. Snooping software takes digital “pictures” every few seconds of incoming emails and other information, which can then be sent automatically to an email address.

The legalities of snooping software are often murky, so most divorce lawyers advise their clients to refrain from becoming a cyber spy. Courts are increasingly permitting the discovery of public posts on Facebook and Twitter, but occasionally even private emails. Emails are generally considered private and sometimes confidential or privileged if to a lawyer. This renders snooping software to capture a spouse’s emails potentially illegal. The result is Courts may be reluctant to admit this into evidence, if at all. It is important to note that divorce law / family law is evolving rapidly in the area of social media, texting, spyware and the like. This means that what might be inadmissible today may change tomorrow.

Worried about spyware?

If you are worried about spyware being installed unknowingly on your digital devices, there are anti-spyware programs that can detect them. However, not all anti-spyware programs can do the job. If you want to be certain you aren’t being “watched” by spyware? Take your devices to technicians who specialize in detecting digital spies.

The best practice is to avoid posting, tweeting, texting or emailing anything you would not want the World to see, including your spouse. But attorney-client communications are a concern. While they are privileged and inadmissible, the damage is done simply by viewing them-in seeing your strategies and plans of how to approach the case. If you are in a contentious divorce or believe it’s a matter of time, take time and protect yourself. You can lose custody of your children over this—in addition to significant assets.

Family Law: Relocation challenging absent compelling evidence


Unless there is a history of parental misconduct, such as domestic violence or abuse, Texas courts typically award divorcing parents “joint managing conservatorship” (referred to as “joint legal custody” in some states) over their child. This means the parents will share the right to make important decisions about their child’s life, including where the child will live. Although there may be many great reasons for a parent to relocate for a better job, more often than not the Judge will deny relocation because of the prejudice to the parent not moving. That’s not to say it’s impossible, but my experience has shown an uphill battle.

Divorcing parents can come up with a joint managing conservatorship arrangement on their own, and turn their agreement into a document called a “parenting plan.” However, if no parenting plan is filed with the court, a judge may decide custody issues.
In Texas, there is a legal presumption that both parents should be joint managing conservators of their child. However, this presumption may be rebutted (overcome) if the court finds there is a history of family violence involving either parent. If there is a history of domestic violence, or if one parent has otherwise demonstrated an inability to act in the child’s best interests, the court may order “sole managing conservatorship,” which means only one parent will make decisions regarding the child’s welfare.

  • When making custody decisions, courts consider several factors, including:
    whether the child’s physical, psychological, and emotional needs and development will benefit from the proposed arrangement
    the parents’ abilities to make the child’s welfare their first priority and reach shared decisions that are in the child’s best interests
    whether each parent can encourage a positive relationship between the child and the other parent
    whether both parents participated in child rearing before the divorce or custody action
    the geographical proximity of the parents’ residences
    the child’s preference (if the child is at least 12 years old), and
    any other factor the court deems relevant to the decision.

In an agreed-upon joint managing conservatorship arrangement, parents may state that neither parent is the “primary” parent, and simply agree that the child’s residence will remain within a particular geographic area. The parents can then create a “shared possession schedule” designating exactly when and where the child will spend time with each parent. When parents can’t reach an agreement, a judge will have to decide for them.

When the court makes an order awarding joint managing conservatorship, the court must also designate one parent as the “primary parent” (the parent that has the exclusive right to determine the child’s primary residence). The court must also establish a geographic area within with the primary parent can maintain the child’s primary residence. The other parent then visits the child in accordance with a detailed visitation schedule.

In most cases, the judge’s initial custody orders prohibit the primary parent from moving outside of a specific area (usually the child’s current county of residence plus any contiguous counties). Therefore, when parents want to move out of state with their children, they need to get a court order allowing them to do so; they can’t just pick up and leave.

Even if you have an older order (or agreement) that doesn’t restrict your child’s residence to a particular area, you still need to give the other parent notice if you intend to move with the child. If your child’s other parent wants to try to stop you from moving, he or she may file an application for a temporary restraining order (legal paperwork), which prevents you from moving until a court can hold a relocation hearing.
At the hearing, you’ll have to show compelling reasons for the proposed move, which may include a job relocation (if you can’t find comparable work locally), or a relocation to be closer to family, who will help support and care for the child. If the court suspects that you’re moving to interfere with the child’s relationship with the other parent, you will not be allowed to go. Food for thought before your final orders are signed.

Sentence First, Verdict Last like Wonderland


If you would like to know what probate court is like, I think rather than “kangaroo court,” a term I’ve always had difficulty with, it’s just like Alice in Wonderland. It becomes relevant very soon (in my first case) that a tacit agreement is being enacted in which all of the lawyers have a script you weren’t’ given. With a wink here and a nod there, up becomes down and down becomes up and truth becomes a lie and a lie becomes the truth. Why? Because they agreed it was that way. What’s scary is the Bible speaks of this in very very scary terminology, when he refers to the “reprobate” mind. Kind of fitting to be reprobate in probate court. 

Kind of reminds me of my sanctions hearing which was a circus where they didn’t enter any evidence and then ordered me to pay $15,000 for protected first amendment speech. But the dictionary says this about being reprobate:

an unprincipled person (often used humorously or affectionately).
synonyms: rogue, rascal, scoundrel, miscreant, good-for-nothing, villain, wretch, rake, degenerate, libertine, debauchee; More
(especially in Calvinism) a sinner who is not of the elect and is predestined to damnation.
adjective: reprobate
unprincipled (often used as a humorous or affectionate reproach).
“a long-missed old reprobate drinking comrade”
synonyms: unprincipled, bad, roguish, wicked, rakish, shameless, immoral, degenerate, dissipated, debauched, depraved; archaicknavish
“reprobate behavior”

that which is rejected on account of its own worthlessness ( Jeremiah 6:30 ; Hebrews 6:8 ; Gr. adokimos, “rejected”). This word is also used with reference to persons cast away or rejected because they have failed to make use of opportunities offered them ( 1 Corinthians 9:27 ; 2 co 13:5-7 ).This word occurs in the English Bible in the following passages: Jeremiah 6:30 (the Revised Version (British and American) “refuse”); Romans 1:28; 2 Corinthians 13:5,6,7; 2 Timothy 3:8; Titus 1:16. In all these cases the Greek has adokimos. The same Greek word, however, is found with other renderings in Isaiah 1:22 (“dross”); Proverbs 25:4 (“dross”); 1 Corinthians 9:27 (“castaway,” the Revised Version (British and American) “rejected”). The primary meaning of adokimos is “not-received,” “not-acknowledged.” This is applied to precious metals or money, in the sense of “not-current,” to which, however, the connotation “not-genuine” easily attaches itself. It is also applied to persons who do not or ought not to receive honor or recognition.

This purely negative conception frequently passes over into the positive one of that which is or ought to be rejected, either by God or men. Of the above passages 1 Corinthians 9:27 uses the word in this meaning. Probably Romans 1:28, “God gave them up unto a reprobate mind” must be explained on the same principle: the nous of the idolatrous heathen is permitted by God to fall into such extreme forms of evil as to meet with the universal rejection and reprobation of men. Wettstein’s interpretation, “an unfit mind,” i.e. incapable of properly performing its function of moral discrimination, has no linguistic warrant, and obliterates the wordplay between “they refused to have God in their knowledge (ouk edokimasan),” and “God gave them up to a reprobate (= unacknowledged, adokimos) mind.” 

The phrase “reprobate mind” is found in Romans 1:28 in reference to those whom God has rejected as godless and wicked. They “suppress the truth by their wickedness,” and it is upon these people that the wrath of God rests (Romans 1:18). The Greek word translated “reprobate” in the New Testament is adokimos, which means literally “unapproved, that is, rejected; by implication, worthless (literally or morally).”

Paul describes two men named Jannes and Jambres as those who “resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the faith” (2 Timothy 3:8). Here the reprobation is regarding the resistance to the truth because of corrupt minds. In Titus, Paul also refers to those whose works are reprobate: “They profess that they know God; but in works they deny him, being abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate” (Titus 1:16). Therefore, the reprobate mind is one that is corrupt and worthless.

As we can see in the verses above, people who are classified as having a reprobate mind have some knowledge of God and perhaps know of His commandments. However, they live impure lives and have very little desire to please God. Those who have reprobate minds live corrupt and selfish lives. Sin is justified and acceptable to them. The reprobates are those whom God has rejected and has left to their own devices.

Can a Christian have a reprobate mind? Someone who has sincerely accepted Jesus Christ by faith will not have this mindset because the old person with a reprobate mind has been recreated into a new creation: “The old has passed away; behold, the new has come” (2 Corinthians 5:17). Christians are basically “new” people. We live differently and speak differently. Our world is centered on our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, and how we can serve Him. Also, if we are truly in the faith, we will have the Holy Spirit to help us live a God-honoring life (John 14:26). Those with reprobate minds do not have the Spirit and live only for themselves.

Interesting that we are being tested and most have no awareness of that fact. They live their lives believing a lie, that they will not be held accountable. I shudder. But Alice in Wonderland is such a perfect comparison to a place that is lawless because nothing makes sense when there are no rules and there are no rules when the law is not enforced.