With smartphone ownership and use more widespread than ever, most people in the modern world are plugged into some form of social media network on a regular basis. From sharing vacation photos to posting about sports scores and political rants, social media use has become second-nature. While these services may provide an excellent means to stay in touch with friends and family from afar, it is imperative for individuals to remember to exercise caution with what they post – especially when dealing with a family law matter such as divorce.
Just about anything you post online or send electronically can be submitted as evidence in divorce court, including:
- Text messages
- Snapchat photos
- Social media posts
- Instant messages
- Shared photographs
What Issues Can Be Affected?
Though many believe that electronic communications are private, emails and text messages are admissible in court and can even be subpoenaed. As such, if you are currently going through a divorce or feel that a split may be impending, it is crucial you exercise caution when using social media and consider the ramifications before you click “post.”
Social posts can affect nearly all areas of your divorce settlement, including:
- Asset and debt distribution: While most people do not explicitly boast about their financial standing on the internet, social posts which depict extravagant trips or luxury purchases can reveal quite a bit about a person’s assets and current level of wealth. For example, it is not uncommon for a spouse to attempt to hide property or assets during divorce to avoid sharing them, only to be outed by a suspicious social media post in their newly-purchased car.
- Child and spousal support: Likewise, parents and spouses may sometimes feign financial instability to avoid paying spousal or child support following a divorce. Hidden businesses on LinkedIn, recent vacation photographs, or even photos with a new significant other may reveal the truth and prompt a judge to award a higher support amount.
- Custody and visitation: A judge’s primary concern when determining custody and visitation arrangements are the best interests of the child, with a parent’s personal conduct and moral stature playing a key role in this decision. Posts depicting dangerous or morally-questionable activity such as drug use or criminal activity can raise concerns regarding a person’s fitness to provide their child with suitable care – or even worse, prompt an investigation from Child Protective Services (CPS).
How Can I Protect Myself?
Fortunately, there are many strategies that divorcing spouses can use to protect themselves against these risks. The following tips can help you use social media responsibly and avoid any unintended consequences during your divorce.
- Abstain from using social media altogether. Keep in mind, however, that deleting or deactivating social media accounts once your divorce has started may be considered destruction of evidence.
- Take a step back and review everything before posting. If your post contains anything you would not want a judge to see, or information that you would prefer to keep confidential, do not post.
- Do not create any online dating profiles during your divorce. This may be used by the opposition as evidence of infidelity.
- Get a powerful lawyer on your side. An attorney will be able to ensure your best interests are guarded and provide further advice regarding what is and is not okay to post.
For more information on the dangers of social media during divorce or for assistance with your own divorce case, contact Ross Family Law, P.C. With personalized care and the expertise of a Certified Family Law Specialist (by The State Bar of California Board of Legal Specialization) within our ranks, our Pleasanton family law attorneys can provide the strong and unwavering support you need to maximize your chances of securing a favorable outcome.
Call (925) 308-9920 or contact our office online today to review your legal options.