Social Media & Your Family Law Case
Your soon to be ex, or maybe he or she is already your ex, has done a number on you and you really want to post about it on social media. After all, your friends will side with you and most likely make comments of affirmation that you have been wronged. Even though you are in the right and what your former spouse has done is completely in the wrong, you will want to think twice before making that post. Those posts can often come back to haunt you.
Long before social media was around, a former teacher would offer his unsolicited advice to “never put anything in writing that you don’t want someone else to see.” At the time as a high school student, we thought he didn’t know what he was talking about, but it turns out he did. I often wonder what he would say in today’s world. Actually, I know what he would say, “Stop posting!” Believe me when I tell you there has been an increase in the use of social media in family law cases. It is of the utmost importance to resist the urge to post anything about your spouse or former partner. If you don’t think you can control yourself on social media there are ways you can keep yourself in check like disabling or suspending your account, do a “friend” clean-up and limit the people that can see your posts, change your passwords, and delete any posts that could be used against you (it should be mentioned that even if you delete it, it’s out there forever).
- Shutting down or suspending your account is the best thing to do if you really think you can’t control what you are posting during the case. Screenshots and/or copies of your posts, comments, and pictures are easily obtained and just as easily used against you in court. The courts do not look too kindly upon negative posts. On the other side of the coin, if you are in a relationship that your spouse is threatening you, shutting down or suspending your account can be used a safety measure to avoid letting him or her know your every move.
- Clean-up your list of friends by doing a little social media housekeeping and deleting those that might not have your best interest at heart. Of course, this goes without saying, but this does not guarantee that your spouse or soon-to-be ex will not still find a way to access your posts.
- Change passwords immediately to avoid your ex being able to access your account. If your former spouse has access to your passwords, he or she can post fraudulently on your behalf. However, an attorney can challenge the admission of social media if there is doubt about the authenticity.
- Deleting any posts that could be derogatory or used against you is a good idea and should be done, but once it’s out there, it’s out there.
Aside from the effects of negative posting, other posts can cause just as much damage. For example, if you claim you cannot afford to pay spousal support or the amount of child support determined by the court but are posting pictures of a weeklong vacation in Aruba living it up, this will not sit too well with the courts.
“Checking in” also creates problems from your former spouse being able to stalk you to hurting your case for child custody. Checking in is particularly dangerous if your former spouse has a history of abuse or a controlling nature. You don’t want to give them the ability to keep tabs on you and know your every move. Trying to prove you deserve to receive custody of your children, yet are continuously checking into events and places without them while they are supposed to be in your care could hurt your case.
What if you have already put things out there that cannot be undone? First and foremost, be up front with your attorney. It is very hard for us to damage control for things we know nothing about. We can create a plan together on how to deal with it.
If you have questions or need assistance with any family law matters, contact Kevin Hickey Law Partners today.