The use of social media during separation and divorce can have serious and unforeseen consequences. If you are going through a divorce, or are involved in any kind of legal dispute, one of the most important things you can do is limit your use of social media. Divorce lawyers have quickly learned that Facebook, LinkedIn, MySpace, personal blogs, and other forms of social media provide an abundance of personal and professional information that can be useful in family related legal matters. Increasingly, information gleaned from social media is being used in divorce cases, particularly in child custody and support disputes, to corroborate existence of assets, expenditures, lifestyle, and behavior that could be considered marital misconduct or adultery. From a legal perspective, social media has the potential to be very damaging to your case. The following are tips regarding social media use during divorce and examples of how postings may impact your case:
- Do not divulge financial information. If your ex-wife is seeking an increase in child support or alimony, it may be harder to convince a judge that you do not have sufficient income to pay more support if you have been gloating to friends online about the lavish vacation you just took or the new boat you purchased.
- Use good judgment when posting any photos. Even photos that seem harmless can provide a wealth of information. A photo showing you at a party with friends when you claimed you were unavailable to exercise visitation with your child could jeopardize your chances of being awarded child custody or more visitation.
- Monitor the postings of your family and friends. This is particularly a good idea if you and your former spouse have mutual friends. A mutual friend could easily share information that you have posted with your former spouse. Consider asking people to remove photos that you have been “tagged” in.
- Do not discuss details of your legal case, and particularly any strategies that you and your attorney may have discussed.
- Avoid bad mouthing and making unkind remarks about your former spouse. If you are blasting your former spouse online for being late on child support, imagine how you might feel if you learn your child has seen the postings. Additionally, if your ex claims that you have anger management issues or a history of emotional abuse that includes derogatory name calling, your online rants may only serve to support these allegations.
- Assume that anything you post online could be made public or find its way into the courtroom.
- Update your privacy settings. “Unfriend” people who are no longer friends, or add them to an “acquaintances” or “restricted” category.
- Secure your account. If you have recently separated or are going through divorce, create a new password.
- Google yourself. Search the Internet to see what information can be found about you. While you are scouring the Internet looking for dirt on your ex, he or she is probably doing the same thing.