For months my ex-husband has been acting testy and difficult with schedules on the kids so I asked him if he had any problem with me, and he said no. Now this week, he sends me an email claiming he has screenshot evidence of me “defaming” his reputation via my public social media, along with contact info for his attorney.
I pretty sure I've never posted anything that would actually be considered defamation, just truths and frustrations/opinions regarding him and his actions. He and his new wife have said several negatives about me on their social media, which I complained about to him but didn't threaten with an attorney.
I believe he is just doing this to frighten, intimidate and bully me, which is his personality. He does not want it out there about the way our marriage ended and how he treated me. What should I do? If his claim I'm defaming him is indeed unwarranted, is there a repercussion for him doing that?
If he was serious about pursuing legal action against you then he would have had his lawyer contact you. It's pretty lame that he gave you a lawyer's phone number and told you to call the lawyer.
All posts are for information purposes only and not legal advice. No attorney-client relationship exists until an engagement document is signed by both attorney and client.
Defamation is a provably false statement of fact that tends to damage your reputation, i.e., tends to have people not associate with you. Defamation is not an opinion which is not provably false, because you can't prove false that a person doesn't like you for instance or thinks you are a terrible parent or spouse, but whether you did or did not do something is a fact that can be proved to have occurred or not occurred. For instance in a marriage the common accusation is infidelity. Objective evidence can prove or disprove that statement of fact. Many times there are lawsuits based on what is called "hyperbole" or statements that are exaggerations meant to prove a point and not meant to to be taken as true. So really it depends on what you posted on your social media and what the context of the discussion was if there was a discussion.
In Texas, among private individuals, defamation litigation is uneconomical and impractical for anyone but the very rich. And unlike many other tort claims (e.g., for negligence resulting in a physical injury), very few Texas lawyers are willing to gamble their time, much less front expenses out of their own pockets, on defamation claims. The Legislature and the Texas Supreme Court have comprehensively tilted the playing field against would-be defamation plaintiffs.
Without reviewing the entire context, and without looking very closely at each of the communications your ex claims to have been defamatory, no lawyer is going to be able to give you a very firm opinion about whether those communications are, or are not, defamatory. Generally, opinions are not; to be defamatory in Texas, a statement must be one of objective, verifiable fact of the sort that does damage to one's reputation, and it must be false. "My ex-husband embezzled from his employer's pension fund," if untrue, would be defamatory. "My ex-husband is a lousy, dishonest @sshole who's mean to children and dogs" is a matter of opinion, incapable of objective and definitive proof or disproof, and is not defamatory.
I agree with Mr. Ninomiya that your ex sending you his lawyer's contact information is "lame"; the most obvious interpretation for that is that your ex didn't want to pay out of his pocket the fees that any lawyer would charge him for sending you a formal letter demanding that you cease & desist (i.e., stop making statements of the sort he characterizes as defamation) and/or that you issue (publish) a retraction.
Especially if there was no demand for a retraction (which would probably have included a reference to chapter 73, or in particular to section 73.055, of the Texas Civil Practice & Remedies Code, then your husband is probably acting without benefit of a lawyer representing him, and he's trying to intimidate you without having the practical means to follow through on his threats.
If he's got money to burn on paying lawyers by the hour just to make your life miserable, though, or if his email did include a formal demand for retraction, or if for any other reason you want to get legal advice that you can rely on regarding your potential liability and defenses, you might want to hire a lawyer to consult with you in more detail (which will include going over the allegedly defamatory statements).
Otherwise, both from a legal point of view and a quality-of-life point of view, it's probably a good idea to simply stop talking about your ex- on social media or anywhere else. That's not capitulating to his attempt to intimidate you; it's just to avoid throwing any kerosene which could turn his smoldering resentments into an active fire.
I'm *a* lawyer, but not *your* lawyer, until we've documented my hiring through a written Representation Agreement signed by us both. The impressions given here are to help you decide whether you should consult a lawyer directly; don't rely on my impressions or opinions for any further purpose.
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