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Previously we looked at Facebook and Divorce, but there are many other means of connecting via high tech and the Internet today which should be considered as well. Sexting, tweeting, YouTube, Tumblr, and many other channels exist which an aggrieved spouse can exploit to hurt his or her ex or soon-to-be ex. For example, a spouse can post a defamatory video on YouTube, perhaps sharing secretly filmed clips of their partner or tirades where they launch into a litany of grievances, imagined or real. Even if these videos are flagged and pulled down by YouTube, the harm has already been done.

Twitter is an instantaneous means of sharing brief, potentially harmful comments about one’s spouse with whoever follows either the poster or a hashtag such as #divorce or #marriage or #myevilspouse (yes, that’s for real). Again, the harm is shared instantly with the world at large, and therefore can reach the spouse’s friends, family, or employment.

Sexting is another potentially hurtful venue. Sexting is defined as “the act of sending sexually explicit messages or photographs between mobile phones.” This is rampant amongst the younger generation, as 30% or more of people between 18 and 25 have exchanged naked photos. Once sexted, these photos can easily be uploaded to photo sharing sites such as Tumblr or online forums, and once this happens, it is impossible to remove the photos from the Internet as they may have been shared too many times on too many venues. Such photos can be used to inflict harm on a spouse, whether by being found by an employer doing an online search for that person, by children of the spouse who become distressed upon seeing the photos, or by any number of other people in the spouse’s life.

If you have sexted naked photos with your partner, or otherwise know of such sharing through other electronic means, you should discuss this with an experienced divorce attorney, who can assist you by filing an ex-parte motion to restrain the online distribution, posting, transferring by any means, or reproducing such videos or photos.

As the American economy has spun through major changes and debt has mounted for many American families, the issues involved in debt and divorce are escalating and taking an ever bigger role in divorce proceedings. Divorcing clients often face short sales or foreclosure of their homes; educational loans, credit card debt, and mortgages; and sometimes even bankruptcy.

What are some of the key issues in a Massachusetts divorce case regarding joint liabilities? Generally, debts and liabilities fall under the larger umbrella of property distribution. And in Massachusetts, property division must be equitable, but not necessarily equal: that is, fair to both parties, given differences in each party’s debt load and property value.

Although it may sound overly simplistic, there are only a few main options:

1. Pay It Off
Where possible, paying off joint debt prior to finalizing the divorce may provide closure and making a fresh, clean start after the divorce, as well as protect the credit ratings of both spouses. While the economics of the situation may seem insurrmountable, possible means of paying off joint debt could include sale of proceeds from the marital home, sale of other assets such as a second home or other valuables, or with liquid savings. Doing so allows both parties to leave the marriage with less debt, making a clean start minus that financial entanglement with your ex.

2. Split Debt
For debt which cannot be paid off as above, the next best option is to split the debt equitably, with one spouse taking responsibility for some debt and the other spouse for other debt. For example, one spouse could take responsibility for VISA debt and the other for MasterCard. However, an important caveat is that, if the two spouses were originally mutually responsible for the debt, if one defaults, then while that spouse may be in contempt of court for violating the terms of the divorce, the creditors could still legally go after the other spouse for payment.

3. Ongoing Joint Responsibility
In this case, both parties remain responsible for the debt, and the debt load is shared between them after the divorce. Again, in this case each ex-spouse may still be legally responsible for debt payment if the other defaults.

4. Bankruptcy and Credit Consolidation/Counseling
An experienced divorce attorney should have some basic understanding as to whether bankruptcy or credit consolidation/counseling are possibilities in your particular situation. Bankruptcy is a major event and should not be entered into lightly. Discuss these options with your attorney to see if they apply to your case.

5. Other Creative Options
Depending upon your individual circumstance, there also may be other viable alternatives which an experienced attorney can identify.

We all know how rapidly technology, especially social media, is growing in today’s society. Everyone it seems is on Facebook, and one must protect one’s identity on Facebook in the face (no pun intended) of being “tagged” in a photo one would rather disappear, have new relationships “put on parade,” or have one’s secrets put on public display in any number of ways. This extends as well to divorce, which is also going high tech today. Spouses who would never dare to tell their soon-to-be-divorced spouse about new personal relationships, travel and their new personal lives are posting such information–often in great detail, accompanied by photos and comments from innumerable “friends”–all over web and particularly on Facebook.

Don’t assume that just because you’ve blocked your spouse they won’t be able to access this information, read the comments, and see the photos. Frequently, one of the first things divorce attorneys are advising their clients to do is to examine the Facebook pages of their spouses and their “friends” in order to gather information that will be useful in divorce proceedings. And it doesn’t stop at Facebook: one must consider all social media that one’s spouse engages in, including Twitter, Tumblr, Google+, LinkedIn, and more. With so many ways to interact online today, one must be careful indeed.

The information contained in this blog is for educational purposes only and is not legal advice. The use of this Blog does not create an attorney/client relationship between you and the Law Offices of Barry R. Lewis. If you are considering divorce or if you are involved in any legal matter, you should hire an attorney.

Massachusetts Divorce and Family Law
Attorney Barry R. Lewis — Divorce Law Specialist
Locations Throughout Eastern & Central Massachusetts :: 508-879-3262