There are a couple of givens in family law. First, divorce, even an amicable divorce, is stressful. In fact, according to the commonly used Holmes and Rahe Social Readjustment Rating Scale, divorce is second only to the death of a spouse when it comes to stressful life events.
Second, people going through a divorce or dealing with a custody or support issue are not always at their best. Whether stress or anger or frustration or sadness, our emotions can get the better of us, and we can lash out. Lashing out physically is never acceptable. Lashing out verbally can get us into trouble, too.
A woman in New York recently found this out. She was already on notice that her behavior had been troublesome, so her situation may not apply to everyone going through a divorce. However, the case involves Facebook, and we know that the courts wrestle every day with social media issues. It’s an area of law that is evolving, so, even in Illinois, at a safe distance from New York, there is an important lesson in this story.
When this woman and her husband divorced, her sister-in-law obtained an order for protection. The reason for the order is not clear, but the sister-in-law had successfully petitioned the court to bar this woman from contacting her.
A restraining or protection order is the type of order that a victim of domestic abuse would seek against her or his abuser. The victim is requesting the protection of the court from the abuser’s harassment and threats. The order, once served, is a warning to the abuser that harassing or threatening, or even just contacting the victim will result in criminal contempt charges.
In this case, the woman tagged her sister-in-law in a Facebook post. Now she will serve a year in jail. We’ll explain why in our next post.
CNET, “Woman tags sister-in-law on Facebook, faces year in jail,” Chris Matyszczyk, Jan. 15, 2016
New York Law Journal, “Judge: Facebook Post Could Violate Protection Order,” Andrew Denney, Jan. 14, 2016