Most people know that potential employers might check out their Facebook posts before a job interview, but they never consider that their spouse’s lawyer might go through their social media accounts for evidence during a divorce case. But that’s exactly what happens during contentious divorces, and if the wrong information comes out during a search of your Facebook posts or other social media content, it could seriously harm your divorce case.
How Social Media Posts Can Hurt Your Divorce Case
Divorce attorneys regularly search social media accounts for evidence they can use to argue in favor of their clients. In some cases, they use formal legal discovery techniques to do so, but often, the information they’re looking for is simply available to anyone.
Social media posts can be deceptive when taken out of context. For example, imagine you’re trying to argue against your spouse’s claim for spousal support and the defense attorney suddenly procures a picture from Facebook that shows you on an expensive cruise. Never mind that it was a one-time trip that you spent years saving for. It could still sway the judge’s opinion and undermine your arguments that you can’t afford the spousal support your ex is asking for.
How Should I Handle Social Media Use During My Divorce?
We know it isn’t easy, but the best solution is just to stay off social media as much as possible during your divorce. Social media might provide a way to blow off steam, get support from friends, and take your mind off the stress of your divorce case. But you need to weigh those benefits against the harm that your social posts could do to your case.
Ask yourself: Is it really worth it to get supportive comments on a post deriding your ex-spouse if it means a worse outcome in your child custody case? Is it worth showing off photos of you having fun with a new friend if it means having those photos brought up in court as evidence that you had an affair — even if nothing of the sort actually happened?
If you decide that you can’t stay off social media entirely, you can at least follow a few guidelines to reduce the chance that something you post could be used against you in court later.
- Don’t assume your privacy settings will protect your posts.
Courts have repeatedly ruled that social media users don’t have a reasonable expectation of privacy when they post content online, regardless of how they configure their privacy settings. You should assume that everything you post will be available to your spouse’s attorneys, no matter how you set up your account.
- Assume your spouse can see everything you post, even if you’re no longer friends online.
Changing your privacy settings and unfriending or unfollowing your spouse can limit their exposure to the content you post, but all it takes is one mutual friend or acquaintance clicking “share” for your ex to see anything you post.
- Don’t post anything while you’re angry or frustrated.
We don’t use our best judgment when we’re angry. Give yourself time to cool down before you log in to social media and post about something that’s upsetting you. Consider how your post would reflect on your character if someone read it back to you in front of a judge or if your children saw it.
What if I’ve Already Posted Something I Regret on Facebook?
If you’re reading this article and regretting posts you’ve already made on social media, do not go back and delete those posts! The judge in your case could view this as tampering with evidence, especially if the attorneys for the other side have already started going through your social media content or made discovery requests for access to it. And the consequences for this can be serious.
Instead, contact an experienced divorce attorney for help. If you have a divorce case in Mecklenburg County, our attorneys at Myers Law Firm are happy to review the posts you’re concerned about and answer any questions you might have about how to proceed.
Contact Myers Law Firm for Help With Divorce and Other Family Law Matters in Charlotte and Mecklenburg County
If you are considering filing for divorce or if you are going through a divorce already, the experienced attorneys at Myers Law Firm are here to help.
From determining child custody to dividing personal property, our team of professionals is prepared to answer any questions you may have and guide you through every step of the divorce process. While we pride ourselves on our ability to get results efficiently through communication and negotiation, our first priority is always to protect your rights and fight for your best interests.
DiBianca, M. (2014, January). Discovery and preservation of social media evidence. Business Law Today. Retrieved from https://www.americanbar.org/publications/blt/2014/01/02_dibianca.html
The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.