Divorces Spike in the New Year
When ‘New Beginnings’ Involve a Marital Split, Think Twice About How You Use the Internet
Toronto, Ont. – January 2, 2020 – With studies showing a spike in divorce rates in the New Year, causing relationship experts to dub January “Divorce Month,” a leading Toronto family lawyer is urging couples calling it quits to exercise caution when using the Internet during the separation process.
“The Internet is a powerful tool that can help in the course of a divorce, but it can also drastically interfere with the process,” said Barry Nussbaum, Senior Lawyer at Nussbaum Law, explaining that post-holiday season is a popular time for couples to split because they want to avoid disrupting family time and start the New Year afresh.
“Going through a separation is hard enough – the last thing you need is to do something wrong by relying on the Internet for a ‘Do-It-Yourself’ divorce or airing your dirty laundry, both of which may come back to haunt you later,” Nussbaum explained. “Even one small, wrong move can lead to big consequences in court.”
So how is the Internet helpful and when is it not? Nussbaum offers these tips for couples going through a divorce:
Stick to the facts: The Internet is an excellent source of information when it comes to general statements on the law. It’s worthwhile to spend time online educating yourself, but be careful not to make assumptions based on what you’ve read since each situation is fact-specific to the individuals involved. Nussbaum cautions against making a determination on your particular circumstances without speaking with a professional who knows the law thoroughly, and how to apply it to your case. Think of it like going to a doctor: a family lawyer can help you diagnose your particular case and confirm your entitlements, including custodial rights.
Avoid self-representation: Because information available online includes items such as court forms, some people choose to file their own divorce applications. While this practice may seem to be time and money-saving, it can actually result in the opposite in the long run. Couples who try to navigate the complex legal system themselves may find their court applications rejected, adding complications to an already stressful situation. It’s impossible to replace the experience and expertise of lawyers specializing in family law – who know the ins and outs of the divorce process – with documents found online. To a non-lawyer, the court procedure is often more complex than the law itself.
Keep quiet on social media: It may feel good at the moment, but venting on social media can severely damage a divorce case. Regardless of your privacy settings, keep in mind that any personal thoughts posted on social media about your separation – positive as well as negative – can be used as evidence against you. Name-calling and posting damaging or hurtful comments about your spouse can be “a nail in the coffin in obtaining joint custody,” Nussbaum emphasized. “The court is a creature of the ‘paper’ trail, and once it’s out there, you won’t be able to get it back, which could negatively impact your case.” Even posting positive comments about your spouse may help your spouses’ custody case while harming yours.
Put away the camera: Stay away from posting photos and videos online. Photos and videos are frequently used in attempts to prove adultery, and can also affect custody and spousal support rulings. Even a harmless photo of someone holding a friend’s hand can easily be misconstrued and that person may suddenly find themselves defending against an adultery claim. Similarly, if you’re claiming an inability to fulfill financial obligations, don’t share photos of yourself on a lavish vacation. Even posting photos or videos of your kids is a no-no as they can be misinterpreted, or perhaps there’s something you didn’t notice in the background that may call your parenting skills into question.
“Beyond the Internet, couples going through a divorce should use caution when using any piece of technology, from computers to texts and emails, as the same rules apply – anything placed in writing can be used as evidence,” Nussbaum said. “The best rule of thumb is to keep in mind that if you don’t post anything, it can’t be used against you.”
More information and a free downloadable legal guide to divorce can be found at www.nussbaumlaw.ca.
About Nussbaum Law
Nussbaum Law is a Toronto-based law firm dedicated exclusively to family law. Its legal staff is committed to providing a personal approach to all clients and taking time to understand that each family situation is unique and has its own set of family values. Advocating on behalf of clients to ensure the best possible outcome, the team aims to resolve disputes through mediation and negotiation. The practice has extensive experience in litigating cases in both the Superior Court and the Ontario Court of Justice.