PITFALLS OF SOCIAL MEDIA (FACEBOOK) IN DIVORCE CASES, SINCE DEFENDANTS, GET INFORMATION TO HURT THE OTHER SIDE, THEY MAKE PUBLIC.
I think most of us can agree that our personal lives have become less personal through social media tools such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other similar sites. With one click, we can share beautiful photos of ourselves on social media platforms, which can be then be shared with friends, reaching substantial numbers of views within minutes of posting. For example, photos of that party you attended last night or that expensive car you just bought. At the same time, you need to be extremely careful with what you post and share on social media as it might come back to haunt you someday. Especially if you are engaged in a contested divorce, child custody battle, etc.
Most divorce and family law cases involve the use of social media evidence to prove allegations made in court. Social media evidence comes in very handy to the court, especially in a contested child custody case, dissolution of marriage, etc. The lifestyle of a person can be proven through a history of consistent content on social media. For example, my client petitions the court for temporary support such as alimony and alleges inability to pay bills, mortgage, car payment etc. The day of the hearing, the spouse’s counsel produces the petitioning parties’ Facebook posts with your recent vacation to the Caribbean, or your new car, ring, etc. Facebook can be used to discredit a party in a legal action, attack their credibility, and/or to support your position of wrongdoing. This often occurs when there are allegations of substance abuse and your Facebook profile shows many posts involving alcohol, drugs, and other questionable activity. It’s hard to deny the abuse when it’s all over your Facebook page.
The credibility of persons involved in a divorce or family case can be gotten through the activities on their social media platforms. It is important to be proactive in regards to your social media accounts, especially when you are a party to any litigation.
There are countless times when a Facebook page could be a treasure loaded with evidence. For example, where the established issue in a matter is alcohol abuse, and you share photos of you with alcoholic drinks or unguarded comments or photos of illegal drugs. Or in some cases where your comments support the use of illegal drugs or drug abuse or during the divorce process. Or if pictures of the child involved in a custody dispute are found on dating sites. Maybe some of your comments show that you have hidden assets. Any of these types of posts could affect your case negatively and may be used as evidence of defects or bad parenting habits.
Even though Facebook has some privacy settings which users can use, in a bid to investigate that which you have posted, the court may still order you to release the information on your Facebook account.
Thus, it is of great importance for you to be very cautious with what you post on Facebook or other social media platforms and to know the role Facebook and other social media platforms play during these cases. Especially those who are going through a divorce. It is important to remove any incriminating content existing on your social media platform if you are involved in any family law litigation. Where you fail to take such precautionary measures, the other party may go through your Facebook page and find a thing or two that is incriminating. If they find incriminating evidence, you can bet they will use it against you to get an advantage in Court.
When in doubt, stay off your social media sites while your case is pending. The opposing party can’t use your social media accounts against you if there is nothing there for them to use.
If you have any questions about divorce or child custody, contact my office for your free consultation.