Social media has thrown many divorces for a loop by bringing new and unexpected forms of evidence into the dissolution process. Often, seemingly innocuous errors can hold huge implications for both spouses.

In Part 1 of our series on shocking social media mistakes, we delved into a few real-life scenarios involving adjusted alimony and even criminal indictments. Now, we explore celebrity examples of divorce-related social media gaffes:

Liking the Wrong Page or Status Update

Active posting alone won’t get you in trouble; your behavior on social media extends well beyond what you post on your wall. Likes and comments can come back to haunt you. Such was the case for actress Anna Faris, who blew the lid on her separation by ‘liking’ a post about divorce one week before she and Chris Pratt made their big announcement. While she didn’t suffer too much, it bears repeating that likes and comments could have stronger implications in some divorce cases, perhaps even impacting alimony or child custody.

Ranting About Exes On Social Media

Reality star Roger Mathews’ divorce from Jenni ‘JWoww’ Farley may still be pending, but it appears that he has done lasting damage to his custody case with a recent social media rant. In a disturbing Instagram post, Mathews used threatening language. A small sample: “I hope you die a slow painful death…just for fun. (Which is the most powerful setting and is like being shot by a police taser).” While we have yet to see the full impact of this behavior play out in court, it’s likely that Mathews’ behavior could lead to the loss of custody or parenting time — he could be deemed incapable of providing a safe home environment for his children.

If social media is throwing you for a loop as you navigate the divorce process, don’t hesitate to seek feedback from the Brown Law Offices.

Research suggests that Facebook prompts approximately one-third of modern divorces. But that’s just the beginning. Once the separation process is underway, couples find themselves navigating new social media complications. What can they post? What can be used as evidence? In this blog series, we’ll take a look at some of the most shocking social media mistakes that caused major misery for divorcing couples.

Alimony Impacted By Belly Dancing Pictures

Dorothy McGurk originally scored $850 in monthly alimony due to injuries from a previous accident that allegedly left her unable to work. That is, until her ex-husband Brian discovered belly dancing images along with a treasure trove of other incriminating photos online. These social media updates made it abundantly clear that McGurk was far more capable of working than she’d indicated while negotiating her original alimony settlement. Her social media flub resulted in a court ruling that saw her alimony cut in half.

Threatening Rap Lyrics

Social media’s interplay with Facebook is so significant, it has already reached the Supreme Court. It all began when Anthony Douglas Elonis posted terrifying rap lyrics to Facebook under a pseudonym. A grand jury indicted him on several counts of threatening not only his estranged wife, but also park employees and local law enforcement officials.

Ultimately, Elonis prevailed, as the Supreme Court reversed the initial decision. Still, this case holds considerable implications for future situations involving threats (whether real or perceived) posted to social media. When in doubt, it’s best to avoid posting anything that could be deemed threatening — even under a pseudonym.

Look to the Brown Law Offices for assistance as you navigate the complicated interplay of social media and divorce. Reach out today to get started.

Divorce brings out the worst in all of us. Unfortunately, in a digital age, the worst of us remains online indefinitely.

If you freaked out at your ex online, you’re in big trouble — records of your explosion could be used against you in court. It’s time to exercise damage control. These tactics will help you make the most of a bad situation:

Don’t Delete Your Account Just Yet

You’re mortified by your social media excess and eager to make it all go away. It would be so simple to press the ‘delete’ button. Proceed with caution. The damage has already been done. Tamper with your post (or worse, delete your account altogether) and you could be accused of ‘spoliating’ the evidence. Once you doctor published content, you’ll give the impression that you have something to hide. Your efforts could even lead to sanctions. Don’t edit or delete anything until you’ve consulted with your attorney.

Even accidental changes can cause problems. For example: in Katiroll Company, Inc. v. Kati Roll and Platters, Inc., the court claimed technical spoliation when a defendant merely changed his profile picture. Given the ease with which you can commit spoliation, it’s best to ask your attorney for guidance when in doubt.

Don’t Follow Up on Social Media

Want to make a bad situation worse? Keep the flood of information going on Facebook. Your efforts to smooth things over may actually harm your case. Don’t apologize online or try to explain your previous post.

Plan For Your Social Media Future

Learn from your mistakes. Don’t post anything else about your divorce. Other posts to avoid:

  • Any mentions of dating adventures or new relationships
  • Anything that suggests you have a lot of disposable income (such as images of new cars or pricey vacations)
  • Content that indicates your irresponsibility as a parent
  • Don’t lash out at former in-laws

The Brown Law Offices, P.A. team offers valuable insight into social media strategy during your divorce. Don’t let Facebook destroy your legal outcome — seek legal feedback at your earliest convenience.

From domestic violence to stranger-induced assault, a variety of encounters leave Minnesotans fearing for their safety. Thankfully, the state offers several countermeasures designed to restore security. Two main opportunities for victims: orders for protection and harassment restraining orders. Although similar in many respects, these options hold several key differences, as outlined below:

Order for Protection (OFP)

An order for protection’s primary objective is to protect the issuer from an abusive blood relative, significant other, former significant other, or roommate. The petitioner must have either suffered physical harm, the threat of physical harm, or forced sexual contact. If the OFP is granted, the alleged abuser may be removed from his or her home. Additionally, temporary custody decisions may be made based on the OFP. The petitioner can request for guns to be removed from the offender’s home. Violations are entered into the OFP State System, and thus subject to police access whenever a 911 call is made.

Harassment Restraining Order (HRO)

No relationship is required to establish a harassment restraining order. The petitioner, however must have suffered physical or sexual assault, or more than one unwanted act (including speech) intended to harm his or her safety or privacy.

A key difference between HROs and OFPs: with HROs, petitioners cannot request for gun removal or alter custody arrangements. Furthermore, while law enforcement officials can forcibly remove offenders from premises following successful filing of an OFP, HROs merely grant them the power to restrict abusers from returning home.

Choosing Between OFP and HRO

Ready to file an OFP or HRO? Your decision will largely depend on how you know the abuser, and how you anticipate the action will impact that person. Typically, law enforcement officials take OFPs more seriously than HROs. In most cases, if the victim is related to or has lived with the perpetrator, an OFP is the preferred option.

Both OFPs and HROs can be granted without a hearing, so take action today if you believe that either approach is warranted. A skilled Minnesota attorney can help you navigate the filing process and achieve the protection you deserve.

An OFP or HRO could be your ticket to a safer and more secure life in Minnesota. Seek support from the Brown Law Offices, P.A.

The Family Law Show returns, with a summary of the issues involved in obtaining, or defending against, an Order for Protection or Harassment Restraining Order.

The conduct giving rise to either Order may impact litigants in three types of cases: a civil case, a family case and a criminal case – often concurrently.

Topics discussed in this podcast include Minnesota’s Domestic Abuse Act, the impact an OFP or Restraining Order may have in family court, the standards and procedures involved in obtaining an Order for Protection, the standards and procedures involved in obtaining a Harassment Restraining Order and the criminal consequences that may stem from violating either type of Order.

 

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In this video segment we discusses the nature harassment restraining orders in Minnesota, including: (1) the legal definition of “harassment;” (2) the process involved in securing an HRO; and (3) the remedies available to someone has been a victim of harassment.

The law provides the opportunity for someone who believes they have been the victim of harassment to seek a protective order – referred to as a “harassment restraining order” or “HRO.”

An HRO is something that will preclude the harasser from being present at one’s home or employer, or having ongoing communication with the victim of harassment.

An HRO also applies to situations where a litigant has been the victim of some sort of assault, but they don’t have the familial relationship required to secure an Order for Protection.

“Harassment,” as defined by law, involves repeated, unwanted acts designed to invade your rights, safety, privacy, or security. The acts must have a “substantial adverse effect” on the intended victim.

The process beings on an ex parte basis, without notice to the other side. If the court accepts the allegations within the initial petition, a judge will issue a temporary harassment restraining order, and then set the matter on for a hearing.

At the hearing, testimony and documentary evidence presented. Both sides will be subject to cross examination. If the court finds in favor of the Petitioner, a more long term harassment restraining order, typically two years in length, may be issued.