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Dirty Divorce Tricks #10 and 11: Dummy Emails & Extortion

Dirty Divorce Trick #10 – Dummy Emails

Beware of the emotionally unstable spouse who has good technical skills. In recent years we’ve seen a substantial rise in instances in which a spouse creates dummy emails, fake Facebook posts, and messages that look authentic but were never sent, read or posted.

This tactic is often used in child-custody cases to paint an unflattering or unstable picture of the other spouse. Save any electronic communication between yourself and the other party, so if the other party provides inauthentic documentation, you will have evidence to rebuke it.

Imagine the following example: a technologically savvy wife enters into divorce litigation with a not-so-tech-savvy husband, and custody litigation ensues. The wife then decides to create a fake profile of the husband on Facebook that looks identical to her husband’s “real” profile. The wife then sends messages to her profile from the fake profile in which the husband appears to incriminate himself or make comments that could damage his custody case. The wife then sends copies of these phony messages to her attorney, who uses them in the case as evidence against the husband.

This happens much more frequently than you may suspect. When this happens, it becomes incumbent on the aggrieved spouse to subpoena records from Facebook, internet providers, email accounts, and other social media accounts to prove that the other spouse fabricated evidence. Fighting these allegations can be costly and time-consuming.

Dirty Divorce Trick #11 – Extortion and Blackmailing the Other Spouse

Extortion (also referred to as ‘blackmail’) is more rampant in divorce litigation than in almost any other area of law. Extortion is when one spouse either holds something ‘hostage’ from the other party or obtains something from the other spouse through coercion. Coercion can include threats of abuse or violence, but it does not need to be physical; it can also include threats to destroy someone’s reputation or relationships.

Texas extortion laws offer many possible penalties. When fighting extortion, the factor that determines the severity of the punishment is the amount or value of the goods, services, or cash that the defendant gains from the blackmail.

For the smallest amounts ($50 and under), extortionists may be charged with a Class C misdemeanor, which carries a penalty of a simple fine of up $500. The most severe charge ( extorting $200,000 or more in goods, services, or cash) is considered a first-degree felony and can be punishable by 5 to 99 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $10,000.

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