The way we communicate has changed over the last twenty years. Social media allows us to immediately post our thoughts, pictures and even update our locations. As a result, the type of evidence introduced in divorce cases has also shifted to include more digital information. More than two-thirds of the attorney members of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers have used or encountered social media evidence in divorce cases. Facebook is the most common source, but Twitter, Instagram and MySpace evidence also routinely comes up. This evidence could provide hints that might help your case. For example, a photo of an expensive European vacation could support an argument that a spouse can afford higher child support or spousal maintenance payments. This goes both ways and a picture from a wild night out after the shock of an initial breakup could come back to haunt you.
Avoid making negative comments via Facebook or Twitter about an ex-spouse while you are separating. In many cases, it is best to shut down social media accounts. For those who do not want to go this far, it may be helpful to your divorce lawyer review what you have online. Disable photo-tagging functions on Facebook and update who sees your posts. When you unfriend someone they still may have access to posts or photos through mutual friends. Do not update your location. This is even more important if there was any violence in your relationship. Threats or intense arguments may also indicate that a former partner has the propensity for violent conduct. Do not email, text or post online anything you would not want a judge to read. A text message sent in anger cannot be erased. It is easy to save messages and later introduce them into evidence during a trial or hearing. Angry, combative conversations related to custody may later support an argument for limited visitation. After you follow the above rules, it may still make sense to monitor the social media of your ex-spouse for clues. A mutual friend’s post about a gift from your former spouse may suggest an attempt to hide assets during the divorce proceedings.
If you are considering a divorce, contact a family law attorney to discuss your situation. A lawyer can discuss the divorce process and help you get started with the necessary paperwork. During the tense divorce process, it is also a good idea to avoid social media.