Social Media and Family Law: The Dos and Don’ts During a Divorce
As of April 2017, Facebook had 2 billion active monthly users. As social medial and the use of electronic communications increases in popularity, so too does their influence in the courtroom. In fact, a survey conducted by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers revealed that over 80% of divorce lawyers noticed an exponential increase in the amount of evidence gathered from social media platforms. Given this survey was conducted in 2010, it’s likely that number would be even higher today.
Social media evidence is particularly relevant in family law cases and can be used to sway judges’ rulings on maintenance, child support, legal custody, and physical placement. As such, it is important for divorcing couples to understand the risks associated with social media usage during the pendency of their case. Here are a few tips to keep in mind regarding your social media presence during a divorce.
DO strengthen privacy settings. People share a wealth of information about themselves on social media sites. As such, strong privacy settings help ensure your information is only shared with users you know and trust.
DON’T use social media as a venting platform. Even with strong privacy settings in place, social media accounts are never 100% private. For example, other users can “screenshot” and share your posts. As such, in addition to being mindful of the content of your posts, who can see those posts, and whether those posts could be used against you, it may also be a good idea to limit your social media presence during your case.
DO think before you click send. With just a few clicks, social media platforms allow for instantaneous communications with practically anyone. But with the speed and efficiency of electronic communication comes the diminished opportunity to reflect upon your message. Before sending an emotionally charged response, it’s best practice to take your time replying. By doing so, you can ensure your message is responsive without being reactive.
DON’T post anything you wouldn’t want the judge to see. The age-old phrase, “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all,” rings true when it comes to social media. Screenshots, Facebook posts, and text messages can all be admitted as evidence in the courtroom. Despite being a “no-fault” divorce state, questionable behavior portrayed on social media can still be used against you for other judicial considerations (i.e. a child’s physical placement determination). Good practice is to when in doubt, keep it offline.
DO monitor friends’ posts. Keep an eye on what your friends are posting on your wall. Photos or posts that you are tagged in could be used against you even if you did not originally post them. As such, you should advise friends and family members to refrain from discussing your case online and from posting damaging or offensive information that could be used against you.
Going through a divorce or other family law matter can be stressful. But employing smart social media practices during this difficult time can help facilitate a smoother transition for you and your family.
If you would like to know more about how social media could impact your divorce or other family law matter, contact our office to schedule a free 30-minute consultation. We’d be happy to meet with you!