It is now 2016 and there can be no question – we are in the age of technology! Most of us have smartphones from which we can essentially stay connected and run our lives 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Sending texts and emails, checking emails, navigating around town and surfing the internet are just some of the tools at our fingertips when carrying a smartphone. And of course, who can forget the constant posting of and commenting on posts to our social media accounts like Facebook, Twitter, Myspace and LinkedIn?
However, you may want to think twice before creating those posts, letting your friends tag you or comment on your posts or commenting on others’- especially if you are considering or going through a divorce. This is because your social media accounts can hurt you, and here’s just some of the ways how.
Social Media Is Discoverable
During your divorce, there will be a discovery period in which you and your attorney, as well as your spouse and their attorney, will gather evidence and figure out what the issues are in your divorce case. These matters may include what you are your spouse’s assets/liabilities are, whether you or your spouse committed acts that serve as a fault-based ground for divorce (such as adultery, abandonment, cruelty, etc.), and who should get custody/visitation of the kids.
During this discovery process, your (as well as your spouse’s) social media page and the information contained therein will be discoverable by your spouse and his or her attorney. This can definitely hurt you if you have not been careful about what information and/or images are posted on your account. For example, if you claim that you need alimony because you are not doing well financially, but then have pictures on your Facebook page of your new car, celebrations at lavish parties and the new clothes you just bought, this information can be used against you as evidence that you are doing much better financially than you say in court.
Avoid Negative Posts On Your Spouse’s Page
Just as your social media pages are discoverable, so are your spouse’s. While this may work towards your advantage (depending on what your spouse posts on their page), this can also work against you if you post negative and/or inappropriate things on your spouse’s page. Though divorce can be a heated and highly emotional time, it is also a very personal time for you and your family. The court will not appreciate you airing dirty laundry on your spouse’s social media pages, nor take kindly to angry tirades and accusations of adultery, drug/alcohol abuse, etc. made public on your spouse’s page.
Moreover, no matter what your feelings are towards your spouse, you do not want them to lose their job or means of income. If your spouse has limited to no sources of income at the time of your divorce, there is a greater chance that you will have to pay (more) spousal or child support than you would have if your spouse had a job, or that you may receive less support (if you are entitled to it). By posting negative things on your spouse’s social media pages, you risk that their coworkers or employer(s) will see these posts and use them against your spouse. By jeopardizing your spouse’s career in this way, you may also jeopardize the amount of support you will have to pay or will receive in divorce.
Remain “Inactive” Or Only Permit Positive Posts
Due to the increased popularity of social media and that fact that it is discoverable in court, the best thing you can do is remain inactive on your social media accounts or consider suspending them while your divorce is pending. This will allow you to keep your account, but will ensure that nothing which can be used against you is posted before your divorce is final. However, social media posting can be an addiction for some people, and others may actually need to use it for their career or professional networking purposes.
If you must use social media accounts or cannot remain inactive during your divorce process, then make sure you only post and approve of positive images and commentary, or those that portray you in a positive light. Just as negative posts can hurt you in divorce, positive posts can help you. For example, pictures of you at your child’s soccer game, enjoying quality weekend time at the beach or at a family reunion are all positive posts that reflect well on you as a caring parent.
In addition to the posts that you create on you or anyone else’s page(s), you must be careful of the posts made by others on your page and the comments others leave on your posts. This information is discoverable too – even if you later delete these posts/comments.
Despite the fact that we live in an age where social media is extremely popular and a way of life for some people, you must be extremely careful about the things you say and what others say about you and your posts in the public domain. These posts can be used against you in your divorce case, and if your spouse can point to anything negative in your social media you can be sure they will attempt to use it against you in court.
If you are considering divorce or have recently been served with divorce papers, you need the help of a knowledgeable family law attorney who you can count on to guide you through the divorce process and help you weed through and manage your social media accounts to limit your exposure to negative posts. At the DiPietro Family Law Group, our attorneys have years of experience representing clients in divorce and all other family law issues, and we are here to provide you with compassionate and quality legal services. Call us today for a consultation at (888) 530-4374.