There has been an increase in the use of social media in family law cases. When you are going through a divorce, custody, or placement battle what you post on social media networks can come back to haunt you.
Ways that social media posts can be used in your family law matter
Posting negative comments about your spouse/former partner are not looked upon favorably by court officials. The negative post can show that you are not supportive of your spouse’s relationship with children. Depending on the context of the post or comment these can also be perceived as a threat and used to obtain a restraining order.
Pictures posted to social media networks can cause significant damage. If you post or are tagged in a picture out at the bar when you have placement of your children, you can bet that your spouse/former partner will bring that picture to court. If you are posting pictures of your week long trip to Mexico, but claiming you cannot pay maintenance or child support, your vacation photos could be used to question your truthfulness.
Not only does checking in at different locations allow your spouse/former partner to keep tabs on you, but these posts can be used against you in custody and placement disputes, as well as in property division and support cases. If you are checking in at a bar or adult establishment during a time when you have placement with the children this shows that you are not using your placement time appropriately. If you are constantly checking in at restaurants, sporting events, and concerts, but claiming not to have funds to support yourself or your child, you could be damaging your case for maintenance or support.
What you can do to protect yourself
1. Shut down or disable your account. The best thing to do is to stop using social media prior to and during your family law case. There is certainly a possibility that screenshots or copies have been made of your profile/comments/pictures, etc. Shutting down the account will also help you resist the temptation to post or comment during the process.
2. Check your Privacy Settings. If you are not going to shut down the social media accounts then you need to check and double check your privacy settings. Limit the people that can see your posts, comments, pictures, etc. Keep in mind that while tightening up your privacy settings can help, this does not guarantee that spouse/former partner will not still find a way to access this information through a friend, relative, or co-worker.
3. Change your password. Make sure you change your password to something that your spouse/former partner does not know. Deactivating an account or changing your privacy settings is useless if your spouse/former partner has the password to your account and can help themselves to any information they want.
4. Delete potentially damaging information. Take down posts, pictures, etc. that could possibly be used against you. Look through your “friends” and unfriend anyone that you don’t know or is in the same circle as your spouse/former partner.
5. Think before you post. Before you post, comment, tag a picture, etc. think about what you are doing, and if this information could be potentially damaging to your family law case. Avoid any posts about the family law matter, your spouse/former partner, and your children.
6. Be up front with your attorney. If you know that there is potentially damaging information on any of your social media accounts, share this information with your attorney so you and your attorney can create a plan on how to deal with this information.
If you have questions regarding your family law matter contact one of the experienced family law attorneys at Lawton Cates.