Currently in our world, 60% of people use social media each day for approximately 2 hours and 24 minutes. We can get lost in the world of Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, etc., scrolling, hearting someone’s message, and simply looking for friends to “connect” with. Other users are diligent in maintaining their Linkedin profile and establishing the perfect resume of work history that would amaze the best professionals in their field. This can, however, have a significant impact on a family law case.
Information shared across the digital media can become crucial evidence during a family law case. Here are some ways social media can affect your family law case:
1. Child custody and visitation: Posts, pictures, or videos shared on social media can provide insight into a person's lifestyle, behavior, and parenting skills. In custody disputes, these posts can be used as evidence to argue for or against a particular custody arrangement. For example, posting pictures of you and your child on a trip (when you may not have gotten the other parent’s permission to leave the state or travel with the minor child), can have a detrimental effect on your case.
2. Financial matters: Social media can reveal a person's financial situation. If someone claims they cannot provide financial support to their family, but their social media shows a lavish lifestyle, it can impact issues like spousal support or child support.
Keep in mind that if you are asking for spousal support, you will need to demonstrate a need for monies to be paid by the other party. If you are running a side business and selling products online, eBay, or Facebook, this is open information and could demonstrate your lack of honesty and decrease your perceived need for support. Renting out a room in your house or your personal property for television/movie productions, and throwing parties in your backyard with a cover charge can be discovered by the opposing party and used against you.
Maintaining your LinkedIn profile is extremely important to your career. Remember though that your start date with a company, as well as the role and any information that you provide, is public information and can be used to establish your ability to pay spousal support or it can establish your lack of need for support.
3. Parental fitness and behavior: Social media posts showing irresponsible or inappropriate behavior, such as substance abuse, partying, or neglecting parental responsibilities, can harm a person's credibility in a family law case. Even an innocent picture out of context can have a negative effect on your case.
4. Privacy concerns: It's important to remember that social media posts can be seen by anyone, including lawyers, judges, and opposing parties. Even if the posts are deleted later, screenshots may still exist. Sharing sensitive information or venting frustrations on social media can be detrimental to your case. If you feel the need to vent your frustrations, meet your friends at Starbucks! Venting on social media, disparaging the other party, and sharing details regarding your family law case has no place on social media and should be avoided at all times.
It's wise to limit your online activity, avoid posting about the case or your ex-spouse, and consult with your attorney about how to handle social media during the legal proceedings.