Don’t Be Surprised If Your Facebook and Twitter Feeds Become Evidence in Court
When you’re in the midst of a divorce, you can crave a forum to talk about the challenges in your marriage, a set of ears to listen as you work through your issues. In our wired world, where many people use Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social media platforms as their primary mediums of communication, the temptation can be to share your anger, your frustration and even your new-found freedom online. You need to be extremely careful about what you post on any social media site, as well as what well-meaning friends might post. It can come back to haunt you in many ways.
Your Social Media Posts Are Discoverable and Can Be Used in Court
The first thing to understand is that anything you post on Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Instagram and other social media venues is potentially admissible as evidence at a trial. There are some restrictions:
- The entire post must typically be introduced, so words cannot be taken out of context
- The validity of the post must be verified
- The post must typically be printed out
When might your spouse’s attorney use social media posts in a divorce proceeding? There are myriad ways social posts can damage your efforts in a divorce proceeding:
- Posts of you engaging in amorous relationships may be used to argue infidelity, which can have an impact on custody and visitation
- Posts of you engaging in certain types of behavior can be used to contend that you are not fit to be a parent, such as using drugs, drinking or partying excessively, or engaging in casual sex
- Posts that suggest threats of physical violence or that use words that threaten may be used to obtain a protective order, and to limit visitation to supervised time
- Posts of you spending lavishly may be used to challenge your rights to marital property or to child support/spousal support payments
- Pictures or posts that suggest that you are cohabitating with another person in an intimate relationship can be the basis for denying or terminating spousal support
- Disparaging or negative comments about your spouse, his or her family or close friends may adversely affect your custody and visitation rights, if the court senses that you will attempt to undermine your spouse’s relationship with the children
Protecting Yourself Online During and After a Divorce
While social media posts are generally discoverable, you can take a few steps to prevent your spouse from looking at and attempting to use social media against you in a divorce:
- Change all social media and other online passwords immediately, including access to your cell phone and e-mail
- Unlink text messaging from any family accounts, so that messages you send and receive are not posted on other devices
- Get a new email address
- Use the private posting features available on social media sites, so that the posts you put there only go to people to whom you have granted permission or access. Don’t accept any new followers until your divorce is final. It’s way too easy to falsify an identity in social media.
- Request that friends and family leave you out of their social media posts. They are often just trying to be supportive, but the best way to do that is to speak directly to you, not through the internet.
- Be careful not to share your location—if you’re at a bar, a party or some other adult location, it can be used against you
Contact the Proven Family Law Attorneys at Bailey & Galyen
At the law office of Bailey & Galyen, we offer a free initial consultation to every client. For an appointment with a knowledgeable and experienced family law attorney, contact us by email or call our offices at 844-402-2992. We will take your call 24 hours a day, seven days a week.