How the Use of Social Media Can Affect Divorce Cases
We all love sharing the latest exciting news and events in our lives with friends on social media. If you happen to be going through a divorce though, it’s important to keep your social media activity to a minimum. In fact, experts suggest you stop posting altogether until the divorce is final. The risk of your information being used against you in your divorce proceedings is simply too high.
Legally, you cannot delete any social media accounts once your divorce has begun, but you can stay off social media sites during the proceedings to protect yourself from negative repercussions.
Social media can be used in a variety of ways to show evidence of an affair. At the least, it can place significant doubt on whether or not a spouse was faithful during a marriage. Character can be called into question, which is especially important when child custody comes into play.
If you have children, issues surrounding child custody are bound to get messy. Don’t assume your spouse or spouse’s attorney won’t be combing your social media feeds looking for evidence you are an unfit parent.
Courts look to evidence of your conduct and values when determining child custody decisions. Spent a night drinking? It’s not illegal, but if you have too many photos showing you clearly inebriated, it can paint a picture on which a judge may not look favorably. The same holds true if you have a new flame and post pictures with that person.
It’s also easy to use social media to paint a timeline. If a parent is supposed to be taking care of the kids, but posts pictures that reveal he or she is on a date, drinking, or doing anything else they shouldn’t be doing when watching the kids, it can be used against that person in the divorce proceedings.
Social media is the hub of bragging. People love to post photos of new car purchases, fancy vacations, expensive new hairstyles, and more. All of this, however, can be used against someone and their income claims. One party in the divorce may be claiming a lower income in hopes of getting out of child support payments or alimony. But these purchases can prove the claims are not true.
For example, Ben Carrasco, a divorce attorney in Austin, TX, was able to prove another source of income by using a LinkedIn profile that listed a side business the party didn’t disclose in discovery.
Email and Text Messages
Did you know your emails and texts can be subpoenaed? These forms of communication are admissible in court, and can be used against you. Mentions of new jobs, raises, upcoming bonuses, fancy vacations, new car purchases, and more can demonstrate a lack of honesty in reported financials.
Emails and texts can also demonstrate new relationships that may not be healthy for children to be around, or can reveal lifestyles that a judge would be uncomfortable with letting children be in that person’s care.
Most lawyers will advise you to keep your written communication free of sensitive information during your divorce. Remember, a judge can read anything you’ve written. So, if you wouldn’t want the judge perusing your comments, don’t write them.
Whatever you do, don’t create a profile on an online dating site while your divorce is still in progress.
For starters, it’s nice ammunition for your spouse’s lawyer to make a case of potential cheating. Beyond that though, think of how you would present yourself on a dating site. Your online profile might be different from what you’re claiming about yourself in real life. Your spouse’s lawyer can spot discrepancies between what you’re saying on the dating site and what you’re saying in court.
How Can You Prevent Negative Social Media Effects?
Remember, once litigation in your divorce has begun, you cannot delete your social media accounts. Social media becomes evidence in a divorce case and deleting your accounts will be considered a destruction of evidence.
Without a doubt, you should stop using social media immediately if you’re getting a divorce. Ask your friends to avoid posting photos of you or tagging you. Keep in mind though that since you certainly can’t control their posts, it’s equally important to make sure you conduct yourself appropriately.
Don’t ever forget your spouse and his or her lawyer will be looking through the life you’ve created online very carefully, and it’s better to just avoid social media entirely until your divorce is finalized.