Can Social Media Be Used In Divorce Court?
Some say Facebook breaks up more relationships than anything else. A study conducted by Pew Research Center seems to back this up, where they report that there is, in fact, a documented correlation between excessive social media use and conflict in relationships. The conflict that stems from social media can be bad enough when a couple is getting along, but it can be highly exacerbated during divorce cases, especially ones in which digital content may be used as evidence. In recent years, the use of social media postings and messages as evidence of bad faith, substance abuse, cheating, bad personal choices, or any other contested issue in divorce cases is becoming more common.
IS SOCIAL MEDIA VALID EVIDENCE?
Social media is often used in divorce or child-related cases against the poster. It can sometimes show someone is lying about their financial position – where they are claiming poor in court but then post about a very different standard of living on their Instagram for example. Social media postings may also reveal assets that the other spouse is trying to hide during discovery. They also may be used to demonstrate why an individual is unfit to be a parent, such as documented drug use or other factors. So long as there is a proper foundation laid to get social media postings and messages into evidence, it is valid to be used against the other side.
YOUR USE OF SOCIAL MEDIA DURING A PENDING DIVORCE
Social media has been around long enough that everyone should know that, even if you have your settings set to private, anything you post online could somehow get out there. Most people don’t get along with their spouse during a divorce and emotions are high so we frequently see people blasting their ex’s on social media or victimizing themselves. This may give you a quick sense of satisfaction, but while your divorce is pending, just do not do it. Depending on the circumstances, especially if your case falls into the high-conflict category, your soon-to-be ex-spouse and their lawyer will be looking for anything they may be able to use against you in court. And every good lawyer knows to start by scooping out someone’s social media pages.
Even if your accounts are set to private, you never know if you have a mutual friend or acquaintance left on your page who will give your ex an update to what you’re posting. So before you hit the post button, think first of whether you would want the Judge hearing your divorce and a room full of strangers hearing about and seeing it.
TIPS ABOUT USING SOCIAL MEDIA
Word to the wise – Always be careful about what you post. Even posts that are meant as a joke can be taken out of context and used against you. You should also ask friends and family not to post any pictures or videos that could paint you in a negative light.
Never use social media to rant. You should avoid talking about your legal case or complaining about your spouse, as this could hurt you in your case.
Limit the time you spend on social media. Spending too much time on social media has been used against participants in divorce proceedings and even led to rumors about cheating, which just tends to make divorces take longer and be more expensive.
Lastly, seek legal advice. A knowledgeable lawyer could help you understand the possible issues that social media may create during your divorce proceedings.