It may seem like merely a fun way to pass the time and connect with friends, but with increasing frequency, social media is becoming a source of evidence in family court proceedings. Be cautious of what you post, as you may be reminded of things you’ve written when the other side tries to present that information in court.
While it may feel like you’re just communicating with people you can trust on social media, you might be forgetting some acquaintances you added as friends years before, without much thought. While you may have account settings that shield the majority of your posts from the general public, there’s nothing stopping someone who does have access to your protected posts from trying to use them in court, or sharing them with someone who will. There is no legal expectation of privacy on social media. Some attorneys and investigators have been known to submit friend requests to persons on whom they’re gathering evidence. If any of your friends have taken your ex-spouse’s side in the split, they can also pass along what they see on your accounts to your ex. As a result, limit what you post during any legal battles. Ask that friends not tag you in any questionable posts if your personal character might be at issue in a case (i.e., “[Client] and I just got wasted at Señor Frog’s and skipped out on our tab LOL”), such as in a child custody dispute.
Aside from posts that might show bad decision-making ability, social media posts can hint at ways that a spouse may have fudged the truth regarding arguments made in court pleadings. If your ex has pled a change in circumstances that makes it impossible for her or him to afford ongoing monthly alimony payments, but just posted an album of photos from a recent two-week vacation to Bali, the court should know. Likewise, if you are the spouse paying alimony and your divorce agreement stipulates that alimony will cease once a receiving spouse moves in with a new romantic partner, posts of photos from your ex’s new place that he or she seems to be sharing with a new boyfriend or girlfriend could help show that alimony should be terminated.
Before you delete all posts that include information you might not want a judge to see, speak with your attorney. If a post would be relevant evidence in an ongoing legal action, you could be fined for destroying evidence if you delete it. Instead, focus on keeping a circumscribed and sedate presence on social media during your divorce or custody dispute.
If you need assistance with a divorce, alimony, or child support dispute in southern California, contact seasoned San Diego family law attorney Andy Cook for a consultation on your issue, at 619-515-9900.