Protecting the whole family’s privacy rights during divorce

Earlier this week, we wrote about social media, wireless technology and the way that these phenomena are shaping aspects of family law. During a difficult divorce or child custody dispute, most people want to maintain a sense of privacy, and evidence taken from one’s smartphone or Facebook account can feel like a serious violation of that privacy.

Of course, more traditional media can also play a role in divorce cases, especially when the case involves a celebrity or a person with access to mass media technology. Although it didn’t happen here in Missouri, a recent case is a reminder to Missouri residents that violating your spouse’s privacy during the divorce process can lead to serious consequences.

Earlier this year, a Florida radio host with local popularity was served with divorce papers while he was on the air. This wasn’t an accident or bad timing. He apparently arranged to be served at that time, but nonetheless acted surprised and blamed her for it live on the air. He then went on to make a string of disparaging comments about his wife.

Because the man was in full control of how the story was told, many listeners believed his version of events. His wife suffered harassment and threats as a result. She notes that “I feared for the safety of myself and my children,” and she is now suing her estranged husband for defamation as well as divorce.

Whether or not a defamation lawsuit is successful will depend on several factors, including whether or not the allegations he made about his wife were true. But even if they were, many rational people would agree that a stunt like this is in bad taste and reflects poorly on the person making the comments. It could potentially hurt his chances of a favorable outcome in the divorce case. According to news sources, his employer may also be held liable for allowing the on-air hoax in the first place.

Divorces cannot always be completely amicable, but spouses should at least offer one another basic dignity and privacy rights. Behaviors like this are unacceptable and only serve to make an already difficult process harder than it needs to be.

Source:, “Estranged wife of popular disc jockey sues over on-air divorce antics,” June 5, 2015

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