Social media is a way of life today. Most individuals have personal and professional social media accounts to network, connect with friends and family, and even discover local news. In a divorce, however, putting information on social media sites is risky business.
Can Courts Use Social Media to Prove Assertions During a Divorce?
In short, yes. Courts regularly uphold evidence from social networking sites including Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn. Anything that is public and easily accessible is fair game for you to use against your spouse and for your spouse to use against you.
When social media started becoming really popular, many people were more concerned about what their content could do to their careers. Now, social media evidence helps prosecutors secure guilty verdicts and can even change the outcome of a divorce and or marital settlement.
The Case for Using Social Media Is the Same as the Case Against It
Social media is a double-edged sword. While it can expose certain pieces of key information, individuals who use it must understand that another person could use the same tactics against them. Here are some of the most common ways social media can affect a divorce:
- It can indicate the presence of hidden assets. Blocking one person may not completely prevent an ex-spouse from seeing or hearing about posts involving expensive vacations, new vehicles, or other luxury items.
- It can end up hurting or helping your case in court. Email, Facebook messages, text messages, and public social media posts are all potentially admissible forms of evidence. Sharing information that contradicts formal agreements could preclude a spouse from receiving a fair settlement.
- It can affect child custody. In addition to property settlement, social media can have an effect on custody proceedings. If the state sees images of a parent engaged in risky behaviors around children, it may completely alter a judgment. Unfortunately, a parent doesn’t have to post the offending content individually. Any content posted by friends and family members could serve as evidence.
- It can move a case into criminal court. Some individuals going through a divorce may use social media login information to change profile information or post revenge content. Even if you have access to a social media account, stay away from it and lose the password. Social media is a constantly changing field of law, and you do not want to engage in any behaviors that may incriminate you.
While some of these ideas seem like helpful ways to keep tabs on your ex during a divorce, social media can present some very sticky situations. To protect yourself from social media challenges during a divorce:
- Never post anything privately or publicly that you don’t want other people to see.
- Talk to your attorney immediately about steps you should take to keep your social media information secure during a divorce.
- Change all of your passwords if your ex has access to any of your accounts.
- Talk to friends and family about social media. Ask that your network avoid posting anything about you online without your approval.
- Remember that we’re all “reality TV stars” today. Any content can go viral in the blink of an eye. Most divorcees want to keep their matters private. Act as though a camera is following you everywhere.
- Avoid lying about your digital content to your family attorney and court officials. An opposing attorney only has to prove that you lied once to break an entire case.
Social media is a great way to stay in touch with friends and family, but it is a public forum. Treat it as such, and use caution before, during, and after a divorce. For more advice on social media and divorce, contact our Boyd Law office in Orange County for legal advice, counsel or a free legal consultation with an experienced and successful Orange County divorce lawyer.