Social media has become widely popular for communicating with groups of friends and colleagues. Most people use at least one of the popular platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, and LinkedIn. These are convenient because they allow information to be published in real time to large groups of people. However, the ease can work against you in divorce proceedings.
Text messages and emails have long been used as evidence in family law disputes. Divorce attorneys are now seeing a significant increase in use of material found on social media sites as evidence. Facebook is one of the most frequently used sources.
In New Jersey, social media has already played a key role as evidence in court. The Washington Post has reported that a spouse will turn to social media to find posts demonstrating illegal or improper behavior in one-third of all divorce cases. If you are contemplating a divorce, are separated, or are in the process of negotiating or litigating terms of a divorce, understand that social media posts can be used as evidence against you. Even if you delete a picture or status, once it is posted, you can never be sure the post has not been cached by another user or captured as a screen shot.
Social Media Posting Tips
Issues of property division, alimony, child support, and child custody can all be jeopardized by unwise or revealing posts. Avoid using social media to blow off steam. Think carefully before you post any photos of yourself or your children and consider who can see your material. Experts warn those going through a divorce not to post anything they would not want a judge to see. If in doubt, leave it out.
During proceedings, take the following precautions when posting to social media:
- Do not bash your spouse
- Do not mention your court proceedings
- Do not portray yourself as single if you have children
- Do not make negative comments regarding children or about parenting
- Do not post photos or status updates that could be interpreted as displaying or supporting substance abuse or illegal, immoral, or emotionally unstable acts
Social media is an entertaining way to keep in touch with others. In the interests of protecting your rights and avoiding awkward explanations of questionable posts, it is best to be more deliberate and careful about using social media when going through a divorce.