The use of social media is a hot topic in the family law arena. Over recent years, evidence from social media sites we use daily have been used in all sorts of family law proceedings. For example, social media evidence from Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, LinkedIn, Instagram and other sites and blogs is routinely factored into divorce cases, alimony modifications, child support hearings, and child custody visitation disputes. Social media evidence can play out in a couple of ways—sometimes it can prove to be critically important evidence, while in other cases social media evidence is basically nonsense and a total waste of time. In family law proceedings, an individual’s “lifestyle” can be highly relevant to a case. Accordingly, social media can be used to establish an individual’s spending habits, possible irresponsible behavior as a parent, or the failure of a party to make a good faith effort to find employment.
It is important to remember that the way in which you conduct yourself on social media can often hurt your family law case. Divorce lawyers, for example, may be net-savvy, and there is the potential that opposing counsel or a disgruntled spouse can search your Facebook to try and obtain evidence.
Did you post a picture of your new motorcycle or Mercedes after you just filed a motion to reduce your child support and alimony? Are you tweeting about your crazy Saturday night out when you were supposed to have parenting time with your kids? Are you doing Facebook status updates about date nights with your new girlfriend or boyfriend, even before you have separated from your spouse? Long story short, many people who are going through a divorce recklessly put it all out there on social media.
Whether you are in a family law proceeding or not, we should all keep in mind that when we are pouring over our keyboards, in the privacy of our own homes, ranting about what we think is only an audience of our social media “friends”, posts are far more public and discoverable than we think.
It is crucial to not let your emotions get the best of you (i.e. refrain from using social media right before or after a stressful court appearance) and to always think before you post. Think to yourself: if this post is introduced as evidence in my case, how does it reflect upon me? If you have doubt as to whether a post will come back to haunt you—don’t post. And finally, check your privacy settings. Although between cyberworld and “the cloud”, social media content seems to be inherently permanent and discoverable, at least make sure that you are not posting to the general public. Be smart, there is no reason to give an opposing party in a family law proceeding ammunition to use against you.
Please contact the Domestic Team at Feldmann Nagel Margulis for all of your family law needs.