Facebook. Instagram. Tiktok. Snapchat. Twitter. Reddit.
Social networking can help users stay connected with old friends and family. But it creates new opportunities for jealousy, invasion of privacy, and cheating. Researchers have pointed to social media sites and social media use as a contributor to the breakdown of American marriages.
Social media activity can also be a goldmine for divorce lawyers. They can find information they might never have found using traditional methods. No laws exclude information from social media accounts from being used in divorce proceedings. They can get information on social networking sites via email, cell phone, or computer data retrieval.
Explore how divorce attorneys use social networking sites for discovery in the divorce process.
What a Lawyer Can Find on Social Media
Divorce lawyers have access to private information provided by their clients. They also have access to public information found on social media. There is often more information than people realize. Despite Facebook's privacy settings, a person's history and whereabouts may be a mouse click away.
People often believe their social media posts don't have the same consequences as real-life events. This is not the case. For example, they may believe that online flirting is not the same as flirting in a bar. In reality, what people say and do online can have serious repercussions in a divorce or child custody case.
Below are a few examples of damning evidence found on social networking sites. Keep in mind that even deleted content may be retrievable by forensic experts. They might use it in court as evidence in a divorce proceeding.
A friend's Facebook photo and "tag" show you at a party when you claimed you had no time to see your children. That doesn't look good for your child custody case.
An Instagram photo of a high-end purchase conflicts with your story of unemployment. That could affect the judge's decision in your child support, alimony, or spousal support case.
Twitter party posts conflict with your story of a business trip keeping you away from the kids. That could harm your argument for more visitation.
A profile on a "dating" site like Ashley Madison could be used as evidence of infidelity.
A side business on the professional networking site LinkedIn or Etsy could hint at undisclosed income.
Most social networking sites can track your whereabouts and your habits.
Social Media and Divorce Legal Issues
Legal issues concerning the use of social media data in divorce cases vary.
For instance, adultery is still grounds for divorce in some states. In most adultery cases, direct evidence is unavailable because these are typically secretive relationships. Circumstantial evidence, such as photos and information posted on social media apps, may be enough to establish adultery.
Evidence-worthy photos on Facebook alone may not be sufficient grounds for divorce. It may be enough proof for an undesirable outcome when combined with other information.
Tips for Social Media Users Facing a Divorce
Think before you upload that picture or post that comment. Consider these tips to help you avoid a Facebook divorce:
- Know that any social media content you post may be used against you in court. Divorce lawyers can use social media evidence in your ex-spouse's favor.
- You do not own the content on social media sites. These sites may do certain things with your content, even without your knowledge.
- Even if you are savvy enough to avoid incriminating posts, friends and family members may not be. They may unknowingly post something damaging about you on their social media platforms.
- Be aware of mutual friends you may share with your ex-spouse. Even if you have your ex blocked, they can still see your posts on their friend's accounts.
Do not log into your ex-spouse's social media profile, hoping to find damaging information. Accessing someone's computer or electronic device without permission violates the law. Information obtained incorrectly may be inadmissible in court. When gotten lawfully, it could be helpful to you. Seek legal advice before you spy.
Consider talking to a family law attorney if you suspect adultery, hidden assets, or other wrongdoing. Learn about how you can protect yourself.
Social Media, Divorce, and Your Options: Get Legal Help
Even the most amicable divorce can be stressful, especially in this age of social media. Only an attorney can give you legal advice. A knowledgeable divorce attorney can guide you through the process to protect your financial security and peace of mind.