In today’s digital age, our lives are constantly documented on social media. But have you ever considered how your online activity could influence your divorce proceedings? Or have you thought about how you could use your spouse’s social media activity to legally gain leverage in your case? Let’s explore the answers to these questions and more.
The Impact of Social Media on Divorce Cases
Social media touches everything. This includes marriages, disagreements, and divorce proceedings. While it took some time for the courts to catch up, they now recognize social media activity as a form of evidence. As a result, posts, messages, images, and videos are often scrutinized in divorce proceedings.
Social media offers a unique and transparent glimpse into an individual’s lifestyle and behaviors. It can also reveal a lot about their finances, relationships, and daily habits. Private and direct messages can even reveal infidelity and conflicts that contradict claims that are made during divorce proceedings.
For example, if a spouse claims they have no income to pay alimony but posts pictures of lavish vacations or expensive purchases, this could be used to challenge their claim. Likewise, posts or messages that suggest a parent engages in irresponsible behavior could potentially influence child custody decisions.
With all of that being said, social media is just part of the equation. Courts will look at the entirety of the evidence and all circumstances involved – not just Facebook and Instagram activity.
Social Media as Evidence
During a divorce, it’s important that you understand exactly how social media can be used. This will help you either leverage social media – using it to expose your spouse’s wrongdoings – or protect yourself from being targeted.
Here are some of the ways social media influences divorce cases:
- Child custody: Posts or messages that suggest irresponsible or harmful activities – like drug use, heavy drinking, and other types of reckless behavior – could possibly sway custody decisions. However, on the flip side of that equation, social media can also show your positive involvement in your child’s life, which might have a positive impact on the narrative.
- Alimony: The courts take into account whether people are saying one thing in proceedings but living another way in their everyday lives. For example, a spouse who claims financial hardship but regularly posts photos of luxurious purchases or vacations could have their credibility questioned.
- Division of assets: In divorce proceedings, honesty about assets is super important. If a spouse is suspected of hiding assets, social media can offer powerful and insightful clues. This includes posts or direct messages about new purchases, business ventures, or vacations that create the suspicion of unreported financial resources or infidelity.
How to Manage Your Social Media During a Divorce Proceeding
While your attorney should absolutely be exploring ways to spin your spouse’s social media to your advantage, it’s equally important that you make smart choices about your own social media presence. Here are a few suggestions:
1. Secure Your Social Media Profiles
Every social media platform, whether it’s Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or TikTok, has some sort of privacy features in place that allow you to control who sees your profile and content. Make sure you turn these privacy features all the way up during your divorce proceeding to prevent your spouse and their attorneys from being able to explore your profiles.
2. Communicate Like You’re Being Watched
Setting your social media profiles to private is a great start. But don’t let this create a false sense of security.
“You might think that just because your social media profiles are set to private that you’re safe. However, you’d be surprised how easy it is for your content to get shared or exposed,” divorce attorney Rowdy G. Williams says. “Plus, you never know if your spouse has access to one of your devices or has seen your password before.”
You should use social media under the assumption that everything you write, post, share, like or comment on is being seen by your spouse’s attorneys. This includes sarcasm and humor that could easily be misinterpreted.
3. Take a Break
Consider taking a complete break from social media for the duration of your divorce proceeding. It’s just not worth it. What little pleasure or enjoyment you get out of posting on social media over the next few months pales in comparison to the negative consequences that could unfold as a result of saying or doing something irresponsible. Something as simple as a post about your vacation could come back to hurt you. It’s better to keep your hands clean and resume social media activity post-divorce.
Adding it All Up
We’re living in a day and age where the physical world and digital world are closely intertwined. Anything that is said or done online is fair game in a divorce proceeding. Make sure you’re using this to your advantage, rather than to your detriment.