If you’re going through a divorce or are considering filing for divorce, it’s important to take a close look at your social media habits. As divorce lawyers in Delaware know, Facebook and other social media accounts increasingly play a role in family law cases and especially divorce cases. Your social media account and the media accounts of your spouse may come into play in 10 important ways:
1) By Presenting Evidence of Infidelity
Up to one in three divorce cases cite Facebook among the divorce filings. Unfortunately, social media and dating websites such as Ashley Madison — a website dedicated to helping married people cheat — make infidelity easier than ever before. Social media and other sites also leave an evidence trail of infidelity, and Delaware divorce lawyers can subpoena this evidence and work with computer experts to gather evidence of wrongdoing in the event of a divorce.
2) By Showing Evidence of State-of-Mind
If one partner is using threatening language or is acting uncharacteristically on social media, divorce law attorneys are likely interested because anything said on social media can be used in a divorce case proceeding. For example, an attorney may notice one partner is planning to move away, which can affect child custody arrangements as well as other aspects of the divorce case. Any threatening statements made on social media are also taken very seriously.
3) By Presenting Evidence of Domestic Abuse or Stalking
In cases where someone posts abusive or violent notes on social media, or uses social media to stalk their spouse, this can be used to file restraining orders or can be used as part of the evidence of spousal abuse.
4) By Presenting Financial Information
A big part of many divorce cases in Delaware involves the setting of alimony and spousal support payments. Sometimes, a partner may try to hide assets or wealth to pay a smaller amount of child support or alimony. If this is the case, but the partner posts evidence of a lavish lifestyle online, social media accounts can be used as evidence by attorneys to press for fair spousal support and child support payments.
5) By Helping Locate Spouses
Sometimes, spouses will try to avoid divorce case proceedings by disappearing, or will try to avoid paying for child support or spousal support by moving. In these cases, social media accounts can be used to track down the spouses to pressure them into paying what a court has ordered.
6. By Presenting Information That May Be Relevant to Custody
Social media in divorce proceedings may be one factor a judge considers when determining custody. When a social media post features pictures of drinking, illegal activities or one parent being critical of another, this can harm that spouse’s efforts to get custody.
If you are seeking custody or wish to share custody, be careful about the use of social media in your divorce. Even an innocuous picture of you relaxing with one can of beer when you do not have the children with you can potentially be used against you.
7. By Using Direct Messaging and Chat Features to Have “Private” Conversations
Some individuals believe that using instant messages, Snapchat, chat features or simply by blocking their spouse, they can say and do whatever they wish on social media and not leave a digital trail. This is not the case.
Whether you announce your divorce over Facebook messaging or carry on infidelity over direct messaging, your “private” messages can still end up being in your divorce proceedings if your social media accounts are subpoenaed. Also, some of the features you think are private may not be if friends reshare or repost private posts or messages or screencap them. Divorce law and social media are always being reshaped, but in general, assume that nothing you share online is private.
8. By Providing the Other Side of the Divorce With Evidence Against You
Divorcing is a stressful time, so you may spend some time going to bars or dating. Unfortunately, some stress-relieving habits or offhand comments can come back to be used against you, especially in custody situations. Your spouse and their attorney may allege you are not serious or are a bad influence.
Sarcasm and joking do not translate well on social media, either, which poses an additional problem. Everything you say will be taken literally and seriously. If you are feeling poorly one evening and use social media to vent against your former partner, that may be construed as harassment or abuse, for example.
9. By Providing Grounds for a Libel Case
Many people turn to social media to vent, and sometimes the end of a relationship includes highly contentious events. If one spouse vents about the other and makes statements that are untrue, this can contribute to legal claims. The spouse who feels wrongfully accused may strike back with legal action, especially if the accusations lead to job loss or other serious problems.
10. By Contradicting What You Say in Court or in Front of Attorneys
Social media and dating sites encourage people to share the best sides of themselves, and some people work hard online to present a specific image of themselves, even if it means exaggerating. If you make a claim in court or in your case but your social media seems to contradict that statement, your divorce will be complicated by the two versions of the truth.
Did you know? Facebook is implicated in a third of all divorce filings!
Using Social Media Responsibly Before, During and After Divorce
Before filing for divorce, it’s important to discuss with your divorce attorney in Delaware a strategy for your social media use. In addition, you’ll want to make sure your divorce attorney is aware of any social media accounts your spouse is using, so any evidence on their account can be used to strengthen your case.
If you’d like to speak with a divorce attorney about filing for divorce, contact Doroshow, Pasquale, Krawitz, and Bhaya for a consultation. Our attorneys believe firmly in working to resolve divorce disputes so our clients and their children are fully supported and protected.