The Role Of Social Media In Divorce And Custody Cases
October 9, 2023
In this day and age, it is nearly impossible to meet a person who doesn’t have at least one social media account. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, and TikTik are among the most used social media applications in the world, and allow millions of people to broadcast bits and pieces of their life to both friends and strangers. While social media brings many other positive impacts to the table, the negative aspects must also be addressed, especially for someone who may be going through a contentious divorce or custody battle. In fact, studies show that 81% of divorce attorneys search for – and use – social media evidence in court.
In this blog, we will be delving into the ways social media can be used against you in your legal case, as well as the ways it could work in your favor, then provide you with tips for social media use while engaging in a divorce or custody matter.
The Dangers Of Oversharing On The Internet
Everyone likely knows a person who shares a little too much of their personal information on the internet. If you’re in the midst of a tense divorce or custody dilemma, it is imperative that you aren’t acting in this manner. Anything that you post could lead to negative consequences in your case, damage your reputation, fuel conflict, and even cause your own mental and emotional health to be compromised.
Your social media activity offers a valuable insight to your lifestyle, behavior, and other intimate details about your life. This could be used as evidence in court as a way to scrutinize your parental fitness. Posting things about or relating to partying, drinking, or drug use might give the impression that you are not a person who can provide a safe and stable environment for a child. Moreover, you will likely be painted in a negative light if it seems like you are trying to use your kids as props on social media. Some people will work very hard to make the time they have with their children seem better or more amusing than the time they spend with their other parent. A court will likely see through this sort of manufactured image you are trying to portray, and communicate that you are the type of person who exploits their children during a difficult time of their life.
In addition, your activity on the internet could reveal that you have made inconsistent financial claims or have hidden assets that may affect the fiscal side of your divorce. If you are attempting to seek alimony (spousal support) or child support, it would not be wise to post yourself making expensive purchases, going on lavish vacations, or doing other things that cost a considerable amount of money.
The Benefits Of Your Ex Oversharing On The Internet
While you should avoid oversharing on the internet, if your ex makes the same mistake, you shouldn’t ignore it. This isn’t to say you should spend hours combing through their social media accounts, and you definitely shouldn’t be hacking their profiles or using their passwords to access their accounts. However, if there are posts that you feel may benefit your case and they are publicly available, you should be sure to take screenshots or gather this evidence and share it with your family law attorney. They will be able to determine whether it could work in your favor and how persuasive it might be for your case.
For other digital evidence that you feel is relevant to your divorce or custody case (such as browser histories, files, spreadsheets, phone or text records) but isn’t publicly available, you should also share this with your family law attorney. In some cases, a judge may approve a subpoena in order to obtain this evidence.
The Same Rules Apply To Others In Your Household
People you live with or spend a significant amount of your time with could also cause problems in your case with their social media use. While you obviously cannot control what another person chooses to post, you have a right – given the circumstances – to ask them to limit posting about you or your kids. If they care about you and want to support you, they should be understanding of this. If your children are older and have their own social media accounts, you should be monitoring their activity in general, but especially during this period of time. Yes, even the social media activity of the children at the center of your custody or divorce issue may play a role in legal proceedings, as you could be held liable for anything they post, say, or do.
Tips For Protecting Yourself Online
While there’s no need to completely erase your accounts, there are a few things you should keep in mind while using social media during your divorce or custody battle, such as:
Adjust your privacy settings, but don’t solely rely on them. While your privacy settings should be adjusted and restrict who can see and access your profiles, don’t be fooled into thinking this will protect you entirely.
Don’t use social media as a support system or as a therapist. Consider confiding in a close friend or loved one privately, or seeking a licensed therapist who can help you work through your emotions.
Change your passwords if your spouse previously knew them. This eliminates the possibility of them hacking your account and posting something inappropriate.
Consider significantly limiting use. It can be hard to do if you’ve previously spent a lot of time online, but limiting your use for a few months is preferable to a detrimental outcome in your case.
Block or remove people you feel could antagonize you about your divorce. Don’t hold on to “friends” who may not have your best interests at heart.
Pay attention to posts you are tagged in or photos that are posted of you. If you wouldn’t post it, don’t allow anyone else to post it.
Call Hembree Bell Law Firm For Effective Representation
Don’t let your toxic divorce or custody battle have control over your life more than it already has. Our skilled and experienced family law attorneys can advocate on your behalf and get you back on the path moving forward. Learn more by calling our firm and scheduling a consultation with a member of our team today!