On behalf of Cooper & Tanis, P.C. posted in divorce on Friday, June 19, 2015.
Most Americans realize by now that social media can be a double-edged sword. To its credit, social media makes it easy to stay connected with friends and family and gives each of us a public platform to express our opinions and showcase our accomplishments. But at the same time, the amount and type of information we share on social media is a surrendering of privacy that we may never get back.
Teenagers and college students who post pictures of wild parties on Facebook may find it hard to get hired, because companies are often using social media as a screening tool for job candidates. And more importantly (for purposes of this blog), social media is increasingly being used as a primary source of damaging evidence in divorces, child custody disputes and other family law matters.
How many times have you posted about your children on Facebook? Are there any pictures or comments published by you which, if taken out of context, could make you look like an irresponsible and unfit parent? Are there vacation photos that might give the impression that you overspend on luxuries? Is it apparent from your posts that you have already started a new romantic relationship even before finalizing your divorce?
Over the past several years, the vast majority of surveyed members of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers said that they have seen an increase in the use of social media evidence. This is in addition to evidence gleaned from smartphones (text messages, emails and GPS tracking).
And data mining in these cases is a two-way street. Spouses often try to use such evidence against one another. It has gotten to the point where some attorneys sit down with their clients at the beginning of the process to assess which online evidence could compromise the outcome of the case.
If you are about to start the divorce process (or any other family law proceeding), the best way to protect yourself and your case is to stay off of social media. Anything you post could become evidence to be used against you in ways you didn’t anticipate. At the very least, please use extreme caution if you are going to use social media. Before you put anything online, ask yourself if you would want it to be seen in court.