Spouses in the process of divorce are strongly advised to think twice before posting on social media accounts, like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram—the list goes on. While entertaining, social media content simultaneously serves as legal evidence during divorce proceedings, evidence that is capable of spurring a frenzy in the courtroom.
The hard and fast rule about posting on social media while you are engaged in divorce proceedings is that when you are in doubt, don’t post. What you do not post cannot be used against you in court. You should especially avoid interacting with your ex-spouse or their friends and posting pictures of yourself that could be detrimental to your case. It may also be best to avoid posting pictures of your children if your divorce includes a custody battle.
The best thing to do during a divorce is to limit or stop your social media activities until after the divorce is settled. If you must update your social media profiles, follow these additional guidelines.
Don’t Delete Social Accounts
In the midst of a divorce, spouses may be eager to delete less than appealing photos, messages, or even their entire social media accounts. Do not delete social content for two important reasons:
Reason #1: Deleting social media accounts, messages, or images can be misconstrued in a court of law as spoliation (the legal term for deleting evidence). As mentioned, social media contents are considered legal evidence during a litigation.
Reason #2: You may wish to delete the photo of you with disheveled hair and a frown. If you delete it, the opposing side can claim you were intoxicated instead of just having a less than stellar hair day.
Digital forensics is capable of uncovering even deleted data. When in doubt about your social profiles, speak with your divorce attorney. It is a good idea to change your passwords, especially if your ex-spouse may have access to your accounts.
If you must post on social media during divorce proceedings, do not post illegal, immoral, or disparaging comments or photos. Posts depicting you gambling, drinking, or smoking marijuana, for instance, will be used against you in court.
Posts showing excessive partying or drinking can lead the judge or opposing counsel to assume you are disinclined to be a responsible parent. Such posts can sway the judge into giving you less time with your children.
Only positive and truthful social media posts are advised if you must post at all during the midst of a divorce. Staying positive on social media includes refraining from posting any negative or derogatory comments about your soon-to-be ex, his or her lawyers, mediators, evaluators, and especially the judge.
You should also monitor the comments made by your family and friends. Comments from people you know attacking your ex-spouse can reflect poorly on you during the proceeding and your children may even see the derogatory comments coming from their family about your ex who is still their parent.
Don’t Post About Questionable or Illegal Behavior
Avoid posting anything on social media that shows you engaged in any type of behavior that can be considered questionable, immoral, or illegal. Remember, everything on social media can be used against you in court.
Do not post anything about partying and drinking, drug use, medications, medical issues, gambling, dating, or anything that could create a negative perception of you in court. The judge in your case will determine the time you get to spend with your children and posts that show questionable behavior can be used against you to limit your time with your kids.
Lying once on social media or misrepresenting yourself to lawyers will immediately destroy any credibility you may have with the judge. Plus, you put yourself at risk for contempt in court and being prosecuted for perjury. Blurting out lies will jeopardize winning your divorce or child custody case.
On social media, do not stage photos. For instance, you may want to demonstrate your attentiveness as a parent. You may snap and post a photo of you at your child’s football game, only to leave a minute later. Witnesses will set the story straight. Instantly, your child custody battle is severely weakened.
Know Posts Are Fair Game
Everything you do or say on social media will be uncovered by opposing lawyers, the divorcing spouse and his or her friends and family. This evidence more often than not will be used against you in court.
Since social media reflects who you are at any given time, keep this fact in mind during your divorce trial. Think twice about constantly complaining about single parental obligations on social media. Doing so is likely to hurt you when child custody issues arise.
Don’t Rave About Finances
If you recently purchased a shiny new Ford truck or a vacation home in San Juan, don’t brag. Photos of luxuries will work against you when alimony or child support come up. Rather, during a litigation, paint a realistic picture of your finances, or avoid talking about them completely.
Don’t Discuss the Case on Social Media
Even if you believe your case is handled wrongly, do not discuss the trial online. This includes saying anything about your ex-spouse, their attorney, the judge, or any mediators or evaluators involved. Appeals are available for a brief span after the ruling. Rather than vent on social media, discuss concerns with your divorce attorney.
Don’t Post Romantic Photos
During the divorce proceedings, you may start dating. Posting photos of a new romantic interest can be twisted by the opposing counsel. Your ex may claim adultery. As a consequence, spousal support may be irreversibly barred.
Equally important is to not post intimate photos. Possible incarceration, awards for financial damage, or the loss of one’s job may result from posting intimate photos to scandalous sites without the other party’s consent or knowledge.
Set Privacy Settings
During a divorce trial, set social media privacy settings to the highest level. Privacy settings do not preclude social media users’ content from being found. Being tagged in photos of mutual friends can leak damaging information. Private messages on social media are also discoverable and can be used in court. Plus, certain social media platforms arbitrarily change privacy settings.
Social media users can protect themselves to an extent when involved in a divorce trial. Ask trusted friends to keep an eye out for content that may be harmful to your case. If disparaging details are floating around, seek the advice of your divorce lawyer.
Monitor Your Children’s Social Media Use
You should monitor what your children do on social media during the divorce as you could be liable for their posts and actions. Certain social media behaviors can also make your children vulnerable to online bullying and predators.
Use Private Devices
You should only use your own private devices to access your social media accounts. Computers and other devices at your place of business and in other public settings are likely being monitored. It is also wise to create a new email account not attached to your social media accounts to communicate with your attorney.
It is important to know what, if anything, is being said about you by anyone else. Search your name on search engines like Google and Bing so you can see what is out there. You should search your full name with and without quotation marks and with and without your middle name.
Allen Gabe Law, P.C.
During a divorce, your reputation is thoroughly scrutinized. Social media plays a substantial part in deciphering your character—though it is rarely the single source for information.
When you are on the brink of divorce and are seeking a reputable divorce attorney, turn to Allen Gabe Law, PC. As an experienced family law firm, our attorneys will skillfully help you navigate through complex court proceedings, including divorce, child custody, child support, visitation, domestic violence and alimony. Unresolved issues surrounding social media etiquette as it relates to divorce can be readily answered by the lawyers at Allen Gabe Law, P.C.
Allen Gabe Law’s team of expert family law attorneys stay up to date and are highly knowledgeable about current Illinois laws. Our divorce attorneys offer not only legal expertise, but an unwavering dedication to the clients and families of each case they handle. Especially in custody, abuse and paternity cases where children are involved, the attorneys at Allen Gabe Law, P.C. proceed with sensitivity to protect the youth.
Our divorce lawyers at Allen Gabe Law are active in the communities they serve. We provide exemplary legal services to residents in Schaumburg, IL and the surrounding suburbs. Private consultations are available.
Contact Allen Gabe Law, P.C. by calling (847) 241-5000, Ext 121 to talk to our experienced attorneys.