When You Should (and, More Likely, Shouldn’t) Discuss Your Maryland Divorce Litigation on Social Media

There is a massive array of reasons why it pays to have an experienced Maryland divorce lawyer representing you throughout your case. Many of these are things that you could list off the top of your head. One that you may not immediately think of — but can be hugely important in a divorce or divorce-related case — is perspective. Namely, a viewpoint that is objective, calm, and always rational. If yours is a divorce where emotions are high, that’s when you need your cool-headed and clear-minded legal counsel the most.

The potential to get into trouble — even legal trouble — in a moment of high emotion and rash behavior is higher than ever in this modern world of the Internet and social media. Such was the case for one woman in British Columbia.

According to the CBC, the woman was a plastic surgery patient who was displeased with the result of her breast augmentation procedure, as the final result allegedly left her bust in a lopsided condition.

The patient vented her frustrations on her own website and on Google reviews. The doctor demanded that she remove the reviews. She refused. The doctor hauled the patient into court for defamation and, in the end, the patient had to remove the reviews and pay the doctor $30,000.

This woman’s case, of course, was defamation, not divorce. And Canadian law is not Maryland law. So what, you may ask, is the relevance? The key take-away point is something the Canadian court said: “online… platforms are not a carte blanche to say whatever one wishes without potential consequences.”

That can be true in your Maryland divorce, too. Online platforms offer many benefits, but they also create an environment where someone can act hastily and post intemperately. In a divorce litigation matter, those actions can carry a range of harmful consequences for your case and for you personally.

Unchecked Emotional Actions in a Divorce Can Have Very Serious Consequences

The way this often comes up in a divorce action is not the risk of a defamation lawsuit but rather a different risk that could carry criminal penalties. Due to various concerns, including parties (or their loved ones) communicating things that could be contrary to the “best interests” of the litigants’ minor children, a judge may instruct the parties to keep their (and their loved ones’) thoughts, opinions, frustrations, etc. off social media or the Internet generally.

If that happens, it is essential to follow the order entirely, or else you may end up being held in contempt of court. This could result in monetary punishment or maybe even jail time. Take, for example, this child custody case that took place in Florida. In that case, the judge issued an order requiring the father “to keep any information about the case off social media and to prevent family members from publishing information about the custody action on social media.”

Allegedly, the father’s current wife (not the child’s mother and not a party to the lawsuit) posted on social media anyway. That led the judge to find that woman in contempt. The appeals court eventually overturned the contempt finding, but only because the woman was “not subject to or served with the court order that she was accused of disobeying.” In other words, but for some technical procedural errors by the trial court, it’s quite possible the contempt finding would have survived.

Even though this Florida woman beat her contempt charge, her actions almost certainly weren’t helpful. Judges are highly professional and objective people, but they are still people, and needlessly irritating your judge by flouting the judge’s clear orders can only hurt your case, not help.

Again, these are times when the right attorney can help. The right attorney will do many things, not the least of which is serving as a steady hand during what is understandably an incredibly turbulent time for you. The skilled Maryland family law attorneys at Anthony A. Fatemi, LLC are here to provide you with the knowledgeable and thoughtful legal representation you deserve. To learn more about how we can assist you, contact us at 301-519-2801 or via our online form.

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