We get it. Social media is how you keep in contact with the outside world.
It’s how you share your life and are able to share in many of your
friend’s and family member’s lives. It’s how you see
what’s currently “trending” in our world. It’s
even how you get your news. However, it is easy to get yourself in trouble
using social media and that’s why our suggestion is simple: log
off. Pretend like it’s the early 2000s when Facebook, Twitter, Instagram,
and other social media outlets had yet to be invented. Trust us–it’s
for the best.
How the Use of Social Media Can Impact Your Divorce
Back before the days of social media, it was often necessary to hire private
investigators to find information which would impact divorce litigation,
or potential alimony or child support payments. However, these days many
people just give this information away without realizing by posting a
quick “tweet,” check-in or picture. Many are naive to the
impact this can have on their case. Consider the Following:
Photographs and status updates, whether posted on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram
or sent via text or email, are discoverable in litigation. The term “discoverable”
means your spouse can request copies of the photographs posted during
the court proceedings, and that they may come into evidence (meaning the
judge may see them and consider them during your case). One important
factor that many clients overlook is that photos of you posted by others
– with or without your permission – are discoverable as well.
If you are going through litigation, think about how a judge would view
the photo before you take it (or let someone else post it).
Seemingly Innocent Things Can Be Used Against You
Even a seemingly harmless photo or post can come back and haunt you. For
example, do you think a judge will believe your plead of poverty regarding
pending child support or alimony payments after a picture surfaces of
you sipping champagne in a mountain resort? How do you think he or she
will like the picture of you with a shot during that recent trip to Mexico?
Think about posts that can be taken out of context as well. For example,
a post that says, “Up all night partying,” could be damaging
to your case, even if you jokingly meant you were up caring for a sick
child or feeding an infant. There are countless ways these posts can be
used against you, misinterpreted, or taken out of context.
"De-friending" or "Blocking" is Insufficient Protection
Even if you “de-friend” or “block” your spouse,
it is still possible that your spouse will see your personal page. You
can make sure your privacy settings are at the highest level, but there
are still mutual friends, acquaintances or family who can access your
page and share the information with your spouse.
Tips if You Choose NOT to Log Off
If you are going through a divorce, you need to navigate with caution when
using social media. You should assume that every picture, tweet, or status
update could be used against you. We suggest you “go dark”
and quit using social media altogether during this process.
If you feel you cannot do that, here are our next best tips:
- Think twice and a third time about anything you post. Assume that a seemingly
innocuous post will be interpreted in the worst way. Always think of the
worst case scenario, and when in doubt–don’t post it.
- Contemplate who your “friends” and “followers”
are. If you decide to remain on social media websites, you should take
a long look at your friend lists and consider removing access to anyone
who you feel will share your information with your spouse. Bear in mind
that anyone who has knowledge of information you have shared online could
be subpoenaed to testify in your divorce or custody proceedings.
- Monitor your privacy settings. Privacy and security settings are constantly
changing on social media websites and you need to check them frequently.
You should make sure you are using the most secure settings so you can
limit who has access to what information.
- Never share any attorney-client communications. Your status update or tweet
should never include the words “my attorney said.” Not only
is it poor judgment to share the legal advice you receive with others,
you could potentially be waiving attorney-client privilege by sharing
Keeping these tips in mind can make using social media during your divorce
a little less treacherous. For more information,
contact attorney Meagan Moodie with any questions you have regarding use of social
networking sites and your case.
Please note that
nothing presented on this website is intended to be legal advice. Every situation
and every client’s legal matter is different and this website is
merely meant to provide information to the public. Nor does this website
create an attorney-client relationship – an attorney-client relationship
has not been formed
until a signed fee agreement has been made. If you want legal advice or have questions regarding a divorce,
contact us to speak with an attorney.