A case out of Ohio provides a telling reminder of why you really need to stay away from Facebook during a divorce – or really any criminal proceeding. Sure, it’s nice to have a place to rant and converse with your online friends. But you need to remember that what you write on Facebook is never completely private (no matter what your security settings are at) and the court can (and often does) find out about it.
The case involves a man who was ordered to stay away from his wife and to refrain from doing anything to cause her “to suffer physical and/or mental abuse, harassment, annoyance, or bodily injury.” The order also affected his rights to visit with his son, so he was understandably upset. What he should have done was converse, in person or on the phone, with his friends or others who could offer emotional support. What he did do was log onto Facebook and post:
“. . . if you are an evil, vindictive woman who wants to ruin your husband’s life and take your son’s father away from him completely – all you need to do is say that you’re scared of your husband or domestic partner . . . .”
The post is a relatively thinly veiled shot at the court, basically accusing it of granting an order against him simply based on the statement of the wife. Well, the man’s wife found out about the post and her attorney notified the court. The court found the man’s post was abusive and harassing, and therefore the court held the man in contempt.
The man now has a choice: he can go to jail for 60 days, or he can pay his wife’s attorney’s fees associated with the contempt hearing and post a public apology on his Facebook wall for 30 days.
It appears that the man has taken the second option, which does indeed sound more enticing. However, some are pointing out that the constitution generally prohibits the government from forcing a person to speak; therefore, there are concerns that the judge’s order in this case violates the First Amendment. Those concerns are purely academic at this point, and the man has not filed any sort of complaint.
Nevertheless, the man’s story is a sober reminder that you will likely face some relatively harsh penalties if you decide to vent your frustrations on Facebook during any sort of court proceeding. To re-emphasis: don’t do it. Just stay away from Facebook if you are going through a situation where the court is involved. If you don’t think you have the willpower to avoid Facebook on your own, you can even deactivate your account for a period of two weeks without losing any of your information.
If you are going through a divorce, contact a Florida Family Law Attorney to help you through the process. If you’re going through divorce and have made comments about it on Facebook, delete them immediately and contact a Florida Family Law Attorney. An qualified attorney here in Jacksonville, Florida, can help you with any family issues you might have.