Almost 75% of adult internet users use some form of social networking site. It’s no surprise then, that divorce lawyers will use information found on social media during a divorce proceeding to discredit you, infer that you are an unfit parent, or show that you earn more than you claim you do.
Of course, Facebook, Twitter, and other forms of social media are a fun way to stay in touch with friends, share your beliefs, market a business, and communicate what’s going on in your life. But there are times when it’s better to stay off social media entirely or, at a minimum, think carefully about what you post and limit who can see your account. And if you do decide to use social media during a divorce or other family law proceeding, it’s important that you think carefully about what you post and how it could potentially be used against you.
It's best to completely take a break from social media during a divorce. Something that you thought was an innocent comment, even something mundane like who you’re spending time with, can lead to disastrous results.
I recognize that a complete break from social media may be unrealistic for some people. So as a middle ground, I recommend at a minimum increasing the privacy settings on your accounts so your posts cannot be viewed by the general public.
Information posted on social media can be used as evidence to show almost anything. Photos of you on vacation become evidence that you were cheating on your spouse with your new lover. That post about a new job or pictures of new cars, property, or other assets will be used to show that you weren’t honest with the court when you claimed you didn’t have enough money to pay child support or spousal support. Pictures taken at a bar, club, or restaurant might be posted by one of your friends, but will be used in your custody battle to show that you are an unfit parent.
Attorneys can use social media posts as evidence as long as the information was not obtained by illegal or deceitful methods. An attorney cannot pose as someone else and ask to join your social media network. Your spouse cannot hack into your social media accounts and use information discovered there as evidence. But anything that can be viewed by the public is fair game and can be used as evidence. Also, remember that if someone in your social media network shares your posts and your spouse is able to view that information, those posts can be used as evidence.
Many divorce and family law practitioners will ask for your social media username and passwords in discovery. The information they obtain can then be used to discredit you, to show that you were not honest, or may simply give the opposing attorney information about other issues to explore in formal discovery or at trial
Because of the potentially damaging consequences of posting on social media during a divorce, it’s important that you think very carefully about what you post on social media.
Something as innocent as sharing where you are on vacation, what you’re doing on a particular day, or who you’re spending time with can all easily become fodder for cross-examination.
If you’ve separated from your spouse and are dating someone new, it’s tempting to add something to Facebook or post something on Twitter. But remember - that information could be misconstrued used to show that you've been unfaithful.
And don't forget that even if you've blocked your spouse’s posts, you likely have common friends. In many cases, your spouse will be able to see information about you when they see what you've been doing with your friends.
If you do decide to post on social media during a divorce, avoid bashing your soon-to-be ex, and think carefully about how information on social media might be construed to portray you unfavorably. If you don’t want the judge or opposing counsel to read it, don’t post about it – anywhere. The internet is forever, and you don’t want a judge or opposing counsel reading posts of you bashing your soon-to-be ex.
When people learn that their social media activity might be used against them in a divorce, custody battle, or other family law proceeding, some people are tempted to delete old posts that do not portray them in a flattering light. Do not do this. In a legal proceeding, old posts are evidence. If the judge learns that you deleted posts that could have been used as evidence, you could be subject to a claim of spoliation of evidence, which means that you destroyed evidence. If you destroy evidence, the judge might infer the worst about whatever information was destroyed.
If you're considering divorce in central-Florida, you need a skilled and experienced divorce lawyer on your side. Contact The Law Office of Jody L. Fisher today for a free 30 minute consultation. Call 352-241-0391, email email@example.com, or complete our online information form.