How Social Media Can Undermine Your Divorce
The digital lifestyle can have negative consequences and one of which is this: You can sabotage your own divorce case if you aren’t careful about posting on social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter and even the up-and-coming iPhone app, Instagram.
In fact, the AmericanAcademyof Matrimonial Lawyers (AAML) recently released a study that showed more than 80 percent of divorce attorneys have used social media posts (also known as “social networking”) as evidence in divorce court cases in the past six years.
Yes, divorce lawyers all over the country are, more and more, sharing Facebook posts, Twitter tweets and Instagram pics and captions in the courtroom. These “snapshots” into the life of your soon-to-be ex spouse have exposed extramarital affairs and outright lies that can affect everything from spousal support (alimony) to the time your allowed to spend with your children.
In Dishon & Block’s new infographic titled, How Family Law Attorneys Use Social Media Evidence in Court Cases, the above statistics plus some real court cases outline this not-so-surprising trend in divorce. Here are a couple of examples from the infographic:
Belly Dancing Out of Alimony
“McGurk claimed that an accident disabled her during the marriage and that she needed $850 a month alimony from her ex as support. Evidence pulled from Facebook and MySpace showed that four years after the accident, she was an avid belly dancer. The judge accepted this as proof and subsequently denied the woman lifetime support.”
Make It Facebook Official
“In the Stephen and Courtney Gallion case, a widely reported case, the husband had seen some things on their shared computer that made him suspect incriminating evidence would be found in the wife’s social media accounts. The judge ordered the divorcing couple to hand over the passwords to their Facebook and online dating accounts to the opposing counsel.”
See? Social media networking can undermine your divorce (or prove your point!). So, what can you do about it today?
What Can I Do About Social Media and My Divorce?
One thing lawyers say is crucial to the divorce process is patience and restraint. Sure, it may be very tempting to gush on Facebook about your new crush, but it can also be used as evidence if you must disprove adultery in your divorce case.
What about tweets, Instagram pics and even “check ins” on your smart phone? They can pinpoint your movements that can build a case to your very own guilt! And that’s not good in any court action.
Most divorce lawyers caution their clients to be rather anonymous during this time. This isn’t just flippant advice. Remember, you may feel like you are flying (as in partying) after you’ve decided to separate from your spouse, but do you really want to capture all the flying-too-high moments too?
Social media evidence can jeopardize not only your court case, but also affect your child custody rights and future ability to co-parent with your ex spouse. Here are some more tips:
Don’t brag. Think twice about “bragging” to your ex via any social networking post. Party pics can get you in trouble in more ways than just one.
Block your ex. Block your ex spouse from all your social media sites and consider blocking or limiting availability to certain family, friends and colleagues who are sympathetic to your ex spouse.
Change your passwords and protect your digital equipment. It is possible your ex spouse has or had access to your laptop or smart phone and can hijack passwords and even install spyware software. First, take the time to change all your important passwords. If you suspect spyware or are just curious, you can take your laptop or smart phone to a spyware detection specialist.
Stop checking in and geotagging. Don’t let everyone know your whereabouts during this sensitive time in your life. It’s time to chill out on any location services software such as “check ins” on your iPhone or with Instagram’s newfangled “geotagging” capabilities.
It may not be fun, but be wary before, during and after divorce about how your ex spouse, friends and family members (and a judge!) may feel about all of your social networking posts.
For more information on social media and divorce, see Texts, Spyware, Social Media and Divorce.