The Effects of Social Media on Divorce Proceedings

Social media has become integral to almost every aspect of modern life, including school, work, family, and even divorce. If you are contemplating a divorce or going through one, you may be experiencing high levels of overwhelming emotions and stress.

A study conducted by the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile and Boston University found a negative correlation between the quality of relationships between spouses and their use of social media.

While social media may not necessarily be the sole deciding factor in ending your marriage, your digital life and social media engagement may play an important role in divorce proceedings. Be prepared to consult with experienced divorce attorneys to learn more about the impact of your digital and social media presence on your divorce.

Avoid Social Media Use During Your WV Divorce

Social media can be a great outlet for communicating digitally and expressing creativity. But it has the potential to wreak havoc on a marriage and cause potential harm during divorce proceedings. There are several things you need to avoid when contemplating a divorce – and limiting your social media activity is one of them.

With emotions and tensions running high, you may get tempted to rant about or snub your partner online. You should avoid doing this at all costs. Your profiles (even the private ones) can be used against you as evidence in a family court.

Remove questionable friends and any connections that you are unsure about. Always be mindful that a private post on social media can be easily retrieved and used against you.

Effect of Digital Activity During and After a Divorce

You should take added precautions when online. Make sure the people you call friends are truly looking out for your best interests. An experienced divorce attorney will strongly encourage you not to post anything about your divorce on social media. This includes talking about your children and spouse or drafting an agreement.

Once the divorce is finalized, you should typically be free to post anything you want on your social media accounts. Besides that, if you have children, you may want to limit your online activity and avoid posting anything about your ex-spouse. Always remain cordial during your interactions with the ex-spouse – on digital platforms too.

Social Media Can Be Used as Evidence During a Divorce Proceeding in West Virginia

You and your digital activity will be perused closely by your spouse and their attorney. All aspects of your online presence will be investigated, and they can use anything they find against you. You can save yourself from pursuing difficult defenses by reviewing your past and censoring any current activity on social media.

For instance, liking inappropriate posts or comments, or posting a photo with a new date drinking at the bar could potentially be used against you. You should also consider the state of privacy of all your online accounts. You and your spouse may share mutual friends or the same network. It only takes one friend with less than sincere motives to divulge damaging information.

Further, the other side may request copies of your social media presence, including posts and accounts during the discovery process.

Impact of Social Media on Divorce Settlements and Child Custody

While you may not overtly post your latest salary check or income, there are more subtle ways of flaunting wealth on social media, which may make things difficult for you in a divorce settlement. It will reflect poorly on you if you claim not to be able to afford spousal maintenance or child support yet post photos of a lavish ski resort vacation, for example.

The same holds true if you claim to be out of work yet post photos of your office and coworkers. The news is full of people that believed they could hide income and assets in a divorce but slipped up on social media. The fact is that social media can give people a high level of information about your life.

Social media can also have an impact on child custody matters. It’s all too common for judges to negatively react to posts where a parent can be seen binge drinking when they should have been at home watching the child. The same holds true if you post pictures of your child on dangerous excursions or doing dangerous things.

Telling the mom that you are visiting the zoo, but taking the kids paragliding may not sit well with the child’s mother, and vice versa. Honesty matters.

Get a Skilled and Compassionate Family Law Attorney on Your Side

If you are contemplating a divorce or are already going through one, the experienced family law attorneys at Hardy Pence, PLLC can lend insight into the various issues that may impact your future and the best course of action to take. Our lawyers will work with a singular goal of achieving what matters to you the most – a successful divorce resolution to your best satisfaction.

Schedule your free and confidential consultation with us today. Call (304) 345-7250 or write to us online.


Is My Spouse Entitled to Half of My Business in The Divorce Settlement?

You may have built a great business during your marriage with lots of hard work, risk-taking, and professional enterprise. But things can quickly get complicated for the survival of your business if you are going through a divorce. You need to take steps to protect your business assets during this process.

A seasoned family law attorney can help you understand the effects of a divorce on the ownership of your business and the steps to take to protect your company.

Impact of Divorce on Business Ownership in West Virginia

Divorce can place you in a difficult situation if you own a thriving business or where the business has significant assets. You probably don’t want to be in a business partnership with your ex-spouse after the divorce, so this can cause a big dilemma.

Even though West Virginia is not a community property state, you may end up losing part of your business during the division of marital assets. This makes it important to work with an experienced divorce attorney who understands property division laws and can use that knowledge and experience to protect your interests.

Depending on the circumstances, you may be asked to give up half of your business in the form of assets or through liquidation. Liquidation is usually not the first choice of courts, especially if the business is a profit-making enterprise with promising future growth. But if you and your spouse are unable to come to an agreement, this may be the only solution left – unless you can buy out your ex’s share in the business assets.

There are also instances when the spouse who is less interested in the business knowingly does things to sabotage it. You need to put effective plans in place to prevent these things from happening.

The Future of Your Business is at Stake in Your Divorce

Your divorce may not necessarily have an impact on the business if it was started by one spouse and the other has no involvement in it. This is especially true if it was started before the couple was married. But that said, many businesses lose their separate property status during the marriage.

For example, the increase in the value of a business can be considered marital property, and that portion of it may need to be divided between the two spouses. The business may also be considered marital property subject to distribution if the spouse contributed to it either financially or by working in it. A business formed during the course of the marriage can also be considered marital property and subject to distribution.

If it is determined that part or all of your business is marital property, there are other ways of compensating your spouse for their share of it.

Ways to Protect Your Business Ahead of a Divorce

There are ways of protecting your assets so that your business can survive the divorce. These include:

Prenuptial agreement

Prenups are not guaranteed to save your business, but they can be very helpful toward that end. The agreement should be in writing and signed in front of a notary or witnesses. You should understand that you cannot coerce your fiancé to sign the document. This needs to be voluntary or else a court may declare the prenuptial agreement null and void.

Of course, you can only enter into a prenup prior to getting married. If you already missed that window, then you may want to look at the next option.

Postnuptial agreement

Postnuptial agreements are a lot like prenuptial agreements. The only difference is that these are entered into after the marriage. These agreements can cover the same general issues, including those pertaining to your business. The challenge is getting your spouse to sign such an agreement after you are already married. At this point, the business-owning spouse has far less leverage.

Buy-sell agreement

This is another way of protecting your business. Buy-sell agreements are useful in protecting interests when a business is sold or a partner dies. But they can also be useful in the event of a divorce. You can have a good business attorney draft this type of agreement.

Other solutions

You could lose your business after divorce if your spouse was involved, whether as an employee, consultant, advisor, or something else. You may want to start drawing a salary instead of reinvesting all profits back into the business. Your ex may end up getting a healthy chunk of that income if you continue to invest the surplus back into the business.

You should also keep your business and personal expenses separate so that the business remains a separate property. It may also be a good idea to place the business in a trust to reduce your ex’s controlling rights over it in the event of a divorce.

Get a Skilled Family Law Attorney on Your Side

The divorce attorneys at Hardy Pence, PLLC will employ the right legal strategies to prevent your assets, including your business from getting unfairly divided. Our attorneys have substantial experience helping individuals protect their business interests during a divorce. To set up your free consultation, call us at (304) 345-7250 or reach us online.


Divorce And Special Needs Children in West Virginia

Going through a divorce is never easy, but it can be particularly difficult if you have a child with special needs. Having a special needs child can impact every aspect of your divorce – from marital property division to child custody, spousal support, and child support.

If you are the parent of a special needs child who is planning to file for divorce, you need a divorce lawyer who can provide you with the personalized legal representation you need. At Hardy Pence PLLC, we have handled several divorce cases involving special needs children over the years and have a deep understanding of the issues that are unique to these types of divorces.

Contact us today to discuss your case with one of our experienced West Virginia divorce lawyers.

Divorce and Special Needs Children – Key Issues to be Considered

Child Custody and Visitation

Caring for a child with special needs is completely different from caring for a normal child. Depending on whether your child has a physical, cognitive, behavioral, developmental, or sensory-related impairment, they might have unique needs that other children might not have. This is something you and your spouse need to keep in mind during child custody and visitation negotiations.

Moreover, as your child grows, their needs might change drastically. You – or your spouse – need to decide whether you have the means (financial and otherwise) to care for your child and make sure their needs are met.

It’s crucial to consult with doctors and mental health professionals to get a clear idea of your child’s current and future needs so that you can come up with an effective parenting plan that does not disrupt your child’s life too much.

It should also be noted that as your child grows, you might have to adjust your parenting plan to accommodate their changing needs. If the child custody and visitation order does not give you the leeway to adjust parental duties and visitation schedules, you have to request the court to modify the order.

Spousal Support

Most special needs children require special medical care, mental health care, medications, and supplements. As a result, the custodial parent might have to spend a substantial amount of money (depending on whether these expenses are covered under the child’s health insurance plan) on a monthly basis. The court might take this factor into consideration while ordering spousal support.

Child Support

Child support payments are meant to be paid only until the child in question turns 18. Once the child reaches the age of 18, the payments stop. This is not the case with special needs children. Depending on the severity of your child’s condition, the court might order you to pay child support even after your child turns 18.

Another important issue to be considered is that your child might qualify for public benefits like social security disability insurance and Medicaid. If you pay child support directly to your child, it might be considered an income and your child might lose their benefits as a result.

You need to consult with a skilled West Virginia divorce and special needs lawyer to figure out a way to support your child without affecting their right to receive state and federal benefits.


Depending on the nature and severity of your child’s condition, they might need the support of an adult all through their life. Keeping this in mind, you and your spouse should discuss between yourselves and decide who will become the legal guardian of the child once they turn 18.

If you fail to do so, the court will designate a guardian for your child once they turn 18. It could be someone who might not have been your choice for the role of guardian. It is why naming a guardian for your special needs child is so important.

You should also designate a successor guardian so that if you (or your spouse, depending on who the guardian is) become incapacitated or die, the successor you named can become your child’s guardian without requiring the court’s intervention.

Remember – the legal guardian has the right to make medical and financial decisions on behalf of the child. So, make sure you choose someone you can trust to be your successor guardian.

Special Needs Trust

Setting up a special needs trust is one of the best ways to provide for your child’s needs in the future. A special needs trust is relatively easy to manage and can be a source of reliable long-term income for your child.

Two of the most common types of special needs trust that can be set up for the benefit of special needs children and adults are first-party special needs trust and third-party special needs trust.

As mentioned above, any financial assistance provided directly to your child will be considered an income and affect their eligibility for public benefits. So, you should set up the trust in such a way that the funds in it will not be considered an income while determining your child’s eligibility to receive public benefits.

Importance of a Cordial Relationship between the Parents

Special needs children need parental love. The more involved the parents are in their child’s life, the happier the child will be. It’s why you and your ex-spouse should try to maintain a cordial relationship even after divorce.

You should consult with each other while making important decisions on your child’s behalf and find a way to be actively involved in your child’s life – regardless of the differences and disagreements you might have with each other.

Legal Help is Here from Compassionate West Virginia Family Law Attorneys

At Hardy Pence PLLC, we know that navigating a divorce when you have a special needs child can be extremely stressful. Our legal team has over 100 years of combined experience in handling divorce, child custody, alimony, child support, and guardianship-related cases.

We can handle your case with compassion and sensitivity, negotiate with your spouse’s attorney on your behalf, and go the extra mile to achieve an outcome that is in keeping with your child’s best interests.

Call us today at 304-345-7250 or use our online contact form to schedule a consultation with a West Virginia family law attorney from our firm.


Getting Prepared When Divorce Is Your New Year’s Resolution

The New Year brings with it a new beginning and renewed vigor to take charge of your life and make changes that shape the future for the better. If you believe your marriage has broken down to a point of no return and that there is no reconciling with your spouse, getting a divorce may not be a bad choice.

You should speak with a seasoned family law attorney in WV, someone who has been through the legal corridors before and knows how to avoid issues for the client in any situation to determine how to go about it. An experienced attorney can protect your rights and interests through the divorce process both as an ex-spouse and co-parent.

Enlist the Support of Loved Ones

Divorce is emotionally and mentally draining, even when you are prepared for it. This is especially true if young children are involved. You need to start building a support structure with your closest friends and family members. Your team will make sure that your morale remains high even during the most tumultuous times.

On a related note, it’s critical that you don’t let their opinions cloud your judgment. You need to be clear about your decision and what you want out of the divorce. In fact, once you get the ball rolling, the only person you should seek advice from is your attorney.

Make sure you don’t disparage or badmouth your spouse. This can easily make an already grim situation worse. Depending on the type of person your spouse is, it may just make it impossible to end the marriage amicably. Moreover, children get confused, depressed, and frustrated when their parents begin blaming each other.

Prioritize Your Children

You need to understand that you cannot get everything you want from a divorce. You will need to make compromises and find common ground with your spouse. This will make things easier for the entire family. Putting the best interests of the children first is a great way of finding common ground.

You should prioritize the long-term interests of your children. This will make it easier for you and your spouse to curb any hostilities. It will also get you to work together and come up with mutually beneficial solutions.

Gather Necessary Documents

Many spouses protest the decision to divorce by destroying valuable documents. You need to prepare ahead of time and make copies of important paperwork. These documents become necessary while you address various aspects of your divorce.

You should gather bank statements, property ownership papers, insurance policies, retirement account documents, vehicle titles, mortgages and deeds, your marriage certificate, your passport, records of investment, records of court cases (bankruptcy), proof of income (pay stubs), and tax returns among other things.

Take Stock of Marital and Separate Property

The next step is to create an inventory of both tangible and intangible property. This should include both marital and nonmarital assets, including money, investments, real estate, belongings, and pets. You need to understand that West Virginia is not a community property state. This means that property doesn’t automatically get divided 50 – 50.

Instead, West Virginia determines property distribution under the equitable distribution doctrine. In addition, there are certain assets and property, such as goods received as inheritance, assets owned before marriage, and items acquired following a legal separation are not considered marital property.

Organize a List of Individual and Joint Debts

You need to assess any debt or liability you jointly owe with your spouse. You should get a clear idea about your own financial affairs as well. You should run a credit report to determine whether the data matches the information you have regarding debts and loans. You should determine whether your spouse or you are responsible for the debt.

You can use this as an opportunity to look for any discrepancies indicating fraud or errors. There have been cases where spouses have fraudulently obtained loans, credit cards, and other liability in their partner’s name. You need to address such scenarios immediately during a divorce proceeding instead of waiting months or years.

Estimating Alimony/Spousal Support

Several factors need to be considered when deciding on spousal support. A court will look at the earning potential, emotional and physical condition, lifestyle during the length of the marriage, and time required for getting a job among other factors.

Your attorney will work with you to determine whether it is appropriate to ask for spousal support and they will help you work out the proper terms and conditions for this type of support if it is granted (in keeping with your best interests).

Evaluate Your Tax Advantage

Spouses filing for divorces in January benefit from filing joint taxes for the prior year. Your marital status on December 31st determines the marital status throughout the year where the IRS is concerned. You can use the tax refund for divorce-related expenses.

Filing for Divorce? Our Reputable West Virginia Divorce Attorneys are Ready to Help You

The family law attorneys at the law office of Hardy Pence are responsive, knowledgeable, trustworthy, and willing to go the extra mile to protect the interests and rights of clients. When you hire us for your divorce, you get an ally that will look out for your best interests, treat you like family, and fight as hard as needed to obtain the best possible outcome.

Our legal advice is based on staunch family law knowledge and a results-oriented approach to help our clients get a favorable resolution. Schedule your confidential consultation with us today. Call 304-345-7250 or write to us online.