To obtain a divorce in the state of Texas, at least one of the spouses must have been domiciled in the state of Texas for the six months preceding the filing of the divorce suit as well as a resident of the county in which the suit will be filed for at least the preceding 90 days. If neither spouse has been a Texas resident for at least six months prior to filing the suit, you have not established jurisdiction and will need to wait until six months have passed until you may file for divorce in Texas. This is a jurisdictional issue, meaning that the Court has no power to grant a divorce until at least one spouse has met the residency requirements.
Social networking is a popular past time in today’s society. Facebook currently has more than 901 million active users and Twitter currently has 500 million active users. There are countless other sites such as YouTube, LinkedIn or MySpace that serve as outlets for people to share their lives.
The chances are good that you or your spouse have a social networking account, so it is very important realize that what you post on your social networking site can have consequences on your divorce. According to a survey by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, in the past five years 81 percent of its members had used or faced evidence collected from social media websites during divorce proceedings. Below are some tips to help you keep your social networking from having a negative impact on your divorce.
- “De-activate” your profile. DO NOT DELETE. Deleting your profile once a divorce suit has begun has been viewed by some courts as removing potential evidence (spoliation of evidence). Deactivation temporarily takes your profile offline and will keep other persons from posting or tagging you in incriminating photos or posts.
- If you absolutely cannot live without social networking, please keep the following tips in mind:
- Change your password: Your soon to be ex-spouse may know your password and log into your social networking site in an attempt to get damaging information on you. Change it! This will keep your private messages and post safe from prying eyes.
- Privacy Settings: Use the most restrictive privacy settings as possible to make sure that only your friends and people your trust are able to view your posts. Limit your profile so that you must approve posts and tagged pictures or check-ins before it is published on your wall for all to see. But remember that privacy settings aren’t foolproof and social networking sites change their policies frequently; post as if that the last person you would want to be viewing your information is still able to do so.
- Beware of your “friends”: Your friends may unwittingly share a photo or post that could be damaging toward you and your pending divorce. Or a friend who is still close with your spouse may forward incriminating screenshots or photos gleaned from your page. Keep that in mind while posting on any social networking site.
- Think before you post: Once something has been posted on the Internet it cannot be recovered. Just because you deleted a post doesn’t mean it hasn’t already been saved as a screenshot or that it can’t be recovered through the discovery process. Don’t post angry rants about your spouse or photos of you with a beer in your hand while posing with your new significant other. Anything you post can be used against you, so think before you post!
Information from your social networking sites is discoverable under Texas law. Facebook has made it easier than ever for users to download a PDF copy of their entire profile and more divorce attorneys than ever are requesting that information during divorce proceedings. Realize that what you post on the internet could have very real consequences on the outcome of your divorce.
The Houston Divorce Attorneys at the Ramos Law Group, PLLC are knowledgeable about the impact social networking sites can have on your divorce. Please contact them with any concerns or questions you might have.