Evidence in a divorce case doesn’t stop at emails, texts, and bank statements. Social media platforms are becoming a standard resource for divorce attorneys to build case arguments for custody, alimony, division of assets, and more.
If you are ending a marriage, avoid social media altogether. Postings and pictures on Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram, LinkedIn, etc. can be used against your case, even if you think the content of your post was harmless. Ultimately, the Judge will be the judge of what’s meaningful and what isn’t.
While tempting, do not delete any unflattering postings or pictures that already exist. This could be considered “tampering with evidence.”
If you decide to resume social media use after your divorce is finalized, always think before you post. Avoid these five ways social media can sabotage your settlement:
1) Don’t post pictures of cohabitation with a new boyfriend or girlfriend. Posting a photo of all the new closet space in your boyfriend’s house can affect your alimony arrangement. If you began a new relationship before separating, private Facebook messages (or even posts from your new girlfriend’s account) can be used as evidence of infidelity. If you haven’t already, change the passwords for all your email and social media accounts.
2) Don’t post negatively about your children, spouse, or divorce case. Posting personal complaints online can be hurtful to your children, and work against your custody arrangement. As you can imagine, complaining about a judge on Facebook can get awkward when your ex-spouse’s lawyer submits that post into evidence. If you don’t want to explain it to the judge, play it safe and keep it to yourself.
3) Don’t assume deleting a post means it’s gone forever. Just because you deleted an offensive comment or a picture, doesn’t mean it never happened. People can screen shot posts, send them to your spouse, and ultimately submit them into evidence. Location tags and time stamps on social media posts can also be used to catch someone in a lie.
4) Don’t create a social media image that contradicts the facts of your case. Take an objective look at your online presence. Does it truly represent your values? If you are pursuing more parenting time, don’t present yourself as childless on social media or dating websites. In fact, avoid dating websites entirely. If you want lower spousal support payments, don’t post pictures of major purchases or fancy vacations. Always avoid posting about excessive drinking and other irresponsible behaviors.
5) Don’t forget your divorce settlement is a living document. Your divorce settlement is legally binding, but not permanent. Spousal support and custody arrangements can be modified as life circumstances change, and social media can play a major role in that process. For example: If you update your LinkedIn profile with a new job or promotion, expect a request to modify your alimony arrangement.
Always be the best version of yourself online. Social media can tell you a lot about a person’s temperament, commitment to parenting, spending habits, and fidelity. Divorce lawyers are very web savvy. If you post it, they will find it.