Blog

Social Media and Divorce Proceedings: Things You Need to Know Before You Post

on Dec 21, 2017 in Divorce

If you spend any time researching the possibility of divorce, you no doubt have seen blog posts warning about the deadly combination of social media and divorce.  Consistently, divorce attorneys warn you should stay away from social media during divorce proceedings.  In Maryland, however, divorce proceedings take over a year in most cases.  Is it really realistic to consider staying off all social media during this time?  Probably not.  That said, there are some steps you can take to protect yourself and your family while going through a divorce.

Social Media and Divorce: Stop and Think Before You Post

Did you know that 58 percent of people in relationships report knowing their partner’s passwords?  This is true, even for couples who don’t specifically disclose those passwords to each other.  Additionally, you should know 66 percent of divorce lawyers report they find evidence to use against an opposing spouse by combing Facebook and other social media accounts.  Consequently, it is a good idea to impose a moratorium on comments about your divorce, your current lifestyle, your new love interest, or your future plans on social media.  These comments should be reserved for in person conversations only.

Social Media and Divorce: Be Proactive

You would do well to change your password to something random.  Do not use your birthdate, your kid’s birthdates, or other significant dates.  Some people use the same password, or a variation of the same password, for all of their accounts.  While this may have seemed efficient at the time you set it up, consider this – your spouse knows those variations as well as you do.  Set your password to something random, that carries no meaning to you (or your soon to be ex spouse).  Take the time to change all of your passwords, so your spouse can no longer get access to your accounts.

Cull your friends list.  If you are on Facebook, you are probably friends with your brother in law, your husband’s best friend, and your mutual accountant.  Anything you post can be accessed by any of your “friends” on the site.  They, in turn, may choose to share that information with your soon to be ex spouse.  Once you post it, you have no control over how others view it, process it, or pass it on to even more people.  Go through your list and eliminate anyone who you do not want to have access to your information.

Review your privacy settings.  If you don’t understand privacy settings, talk to someone who does understand them.  It is essential you do not leave your social media accounts open to the public.

Social Media and Divorce: Understand How Lawyers View Your Facebook Page and Other Social Media

If you leave your social media open, others can view the contents of your page.  This is no different than leaving your front door open, or your curtains open wide with all the lights on.  Other people can see that information.  At all times, and before every posting, ask yourself, “Can I defend this in court?  Do I really want to be cross examined on this?

Consider this: If you post a picture of yourself parasailing over the Pacific Ocean, that tells the world something about how you spend your money. If you post a picture of yourself and your girlfriends smoking pot in someone’s back yard, this, too, tells the viewer something about your lifestyle.  Even if you are in a jurisdiction where smoking pot is legal, if your kids are in the background, or if your spouse can establish the kids were with you at the time the picture was taken, this may speak to your ability to make sound judgments and properly care for your children.  Consider your comments.  Imagine your friend describes a frustrating scene in the parking lot, involving a dispute over a parking space.  Imagine further you comment, “If that were me, I would have rammed that car!” or “I don’t get mad!  I get EVEN!!”  Even if you are being flip, this creates a piece of evidence which may be used against you.  There is simply no reason to create evidence for your spouse’s attorney to use against you.

Social Media and Divorce: Legal Theories Lawyers May Use When Seeking to Introduce Evidence from Social Media Postings

In the law, rules govern the admissibility of evidence.  While the specific facts and circumstances of your case will dictate whether or not something is relevant and admissible, generally speaking, these are the types of reasons a lawyer may be interested in your social media accounts.

  • To document communications between you and others – including, but not limited to a new love interest;
  • Proof of spending;
  • Proof of income and resources;
  • One’s state of mind;
  • Establishing where you were at a given time;
  • Documenting actions and choices, either when with, or without the children; as well as
  • Proof of who you spend your time with.

The purpose of providing evidence, whether from a social media account or other source, is either to present damning evidence against you, or provide favorable evidence on behalf of a client.  Depending on the circumstances, social media content can accomplish both.  Some social media accounts, such as FourSquare and Facebook, allow you to “check in” to a given location.  This, in particular, can assist an attorney in establishing a timeline regarding where you were on any given day.

If You are Considering Divorce

If you are considering divorce, contact the firm of Fait & DiLima.  Our attorneys practice exclusively in the area of family law.  We provide a variety of options for your divorce needs, from mediation, collaborative divorce, standard negotiation, or, when the situation calls for it, litigation of the issues.  We work with you to help calm the storm, and return you to what matters most: your family, your job, and your life.  Contact us today for a consultation.