‘Revenge Porn’ Destroying Many Divorce And Custody Cases

revenge pornThe emergence of the Internet and social media is playing a big role in the sexual habits of many modern couples, and it is starting to complicate matters when relationships fall apart.

Recently, Cordell & Cordell Principal Partner Joe Cordell appeared on the Charlie Brennan Show on KMOX NewsRadio 1120 AM to talk about the legal ramifications of “revenge porn,” which is sexually explicit photos or videos that an individual distributes as a way to retaliate against his or her former partner.

Although still considered somewhat taboo, engaging in this type of sexual behavior is rapidly becoming the norm. According to a study by software firm McAfee, 54 percent of adults send or receive intimate content including video, photos, emails and messages. This trend is largely generational, with 70 percent of 18-24-year-olds receiving sexually suggestive photos and messages.

Courts have struggled to figure out how to respond when these photos and videos are distributed as an act of revenge.

“What has happened here is the law has failed to keep up with this fast unfolding technological opportunity,” Mr. Cordell said.

Whether or not revenge porn is against the law largely depends on what state you live.

The majority of states have a cause of action called a public disclosure of private facts that allows an individual to sue, but intent to cause emotional distress must be proven, which makes it challenging to pursue.

From a criminal standpoint, 15 states include a criminal cause of action for this sort of conduct and another 12 have pending legislation. In 2013, only three states had such laws.

That trend will likely continue. In California, Congresswoman Jackie Speier is reintroducing the Intimate Privacy Protection Act, which would make revenge porn a federal crime.

Public outrage over revenge porn has also built in recent months. In June, John Oliver profiled the issue on HBO’s “Last Week Tonight.”

The backlash has prompted response from most of the major media companies. Google recently announced it would remove revenge porn from its search results. Facebook and Twitter have taken similar steps to ban revenge porn from their sites.

Revenge porn is yet another way marriages and divorces are being affected by the social media era. It doesn’t matter if it is technically against the law or not, it can still cause massive destruction to a divorce or child custody case.

“The principle that both parties in a divorce need to keep in mind is that they want credibility before the judge, and they don’t want the judge to dislike them,” Mr. Cordell said, “because judges in family courts have broad discretion … meaning their opinion is difficult to overturn.

“So when one of the parties is engaging in that sort of activity, it really poisons the well of the court and it can have ramifications in a variety of ways. It can impact attorney fees and it can impact custody implicitly or explicitly. So it’s simply a fact that if judges don’t like it, they will use whatever legal means or implicit means it takes to correct it.”

Regardless of its legal ramifications, distributing revenge porn is a harmful, immature act that can cause severe emotional turmoil to all parties involved. Under all circumstances, this kind of behavior should be completely avoided.

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Shawn Garrison is an Online Editor for Lexicon, focusing on subjects related to the legal services of customers, Cordell & Cordell and Cordell & Cordell UK. He has written countless pieces dealing with the unique child custody and divorce issues that men and fathers face. Through his work on CordellCordell.com, CordellCordell.co.uk, and DadsDivorce.com, Mr. Garrison has become an authority on the complexities of the legal experience and was a content creator for the YouTube series “Dad’s Divorce Live” and additional videos on both the Dad’s Divorce and Cordell & Cordell YouTube channels. Mr. Garrison has managed the sites of these customers, and fostered the creation of several of their features, including the Cordell & Cordell attorney and office pages, the Dad’s Divorce Newsletter, and the Cordell & Cordell newsletter.

2 comments on “‘Revenge Porn’ Destroying Many Divorce And Custody Cases

    It is unfortunately one of the negative aspects of technology, and it will likely only get worse. People do not think of the consequences in the heat of the moment. However, this firm is not the first fight revenge porn this way. Pascale Law, has been using the Digital Millennium Copyright Act for the past few years to demand the removal of these images for our clients. We also have a website specifically built to help victims of revenge porn take back their privacy. http://www.revengepornadvocate.com

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