What’s the connection between social media and divorce proceedings? Social, it turns out, may do more harm than you think. On the positive side, Facebook status updates, Instagram posts and Twitter tweets permit us to easily and efficiently update friends and family on our everyday lives. The problem is that too many people risk sharing too much information online – not understanding that what you say and how you behave on the Internet can affect and even hurt your family law case.
If you’re appearing in divorce court, you may want to consider the influence that social media can have on your case, particularly since online activities and any information you share personally on your social media accounts may be used as evidence in legal proceedings. In fact, according to the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, approximately 81 percent of divorce attorneys recently surveyed reported a significant increase in the number of cases that used social as evidence.
This evidence may be nearly anything you put on the web. It could be posts or images that challenge claims as to wealth or assets. Proof of infidelity may exist online. Posts may also reveal a questionable lifestyle. Such social media activities may affect the outcome of your divorce or child custody case, as well as impacting spousal support orders and property division.
Can you competently care for your child? Your ability to do so may be questioned if there are photographs of you drunk on your Facebook page. Your tweets about a recent expensive vacation or a newly purchased car may be used against you, challenging the contention you are unable to afford paying the same amount in alimony or child support.
Even if your spouse isn’t a “friend” or “follower” on your social media accounts, remember that there are still family members, acquaintances, and mutual friends who can see all the information you post—and possibly share these details with your spouse.
You may think that privacy settings on your social media accounts will protect you, however, the reality is different. Many courts across the country have ruled that postings on social media are not considered truly private. In some situations, you may have to turn over all passwords to your social accounts — an opposing prosecutor or attorney may require just that. They can then use those passwords to look at all the photos, posts, and information you have posted. The court is also within its power to have you retrieve information you once deleted from your social media accounts and use this against you.
If you are contemplating divorce or are currently going through one, the best course of action to take is to be discreet and think about what you post. Avoid sharing anything online that you would not want to be used against you later on. Remember that anyone could be visiting your page—your spouse, your spouse’s attorney, your kids, and the judge.