Let’s go back 15 years from today. Infidelity in high net-worth divorces was often revealed by private investigators and/or forensic accountants. It’s so different nowadays. Almost everyone in the United States has a social media account. And let’s be clear…business accounts also count! More often than not, people post glimpses (highlights) of their personal lives and share articles tied to their political, religious, or other type of belief.
For many users, if it is not posted on social media, it didn’t happen. This phenomenon has even affected how we approach a divorce. Hiring a private investigator to get evidence of infidelity is not as common in typical cases these days. It’s a lot easier these days to get information through social media.
When it comes to testimony, credibility is everything. If your case is highly litigated, it is extremely important to be mindful of the way you present yourself in front of the judge when testifying. Social media can produce evidence of reckless or unseemly behavior and hidden assets during discussions about custody or alimony. Expect the other side to bring up something you have posted in the past to diminish your credibility.
Be careful what you say and always be truthful. Social media may be used to “impeach” a witness. This happens when a witness is on the stand and testifies to something, that is later contradicted by another statement made-for example, whether the statement was made in court, to another person, or on social media. present the court with contradictory evidence to verbal testimony already given.
Facebook is a major source for evidence discovery. Some studies show that as high as one-third of evidence of infidelity comes from social media posts. The most widely damaging evidence in a divorce case comes from text messages; with dating sites coming in at a third place.
Most courts will accept evidence from posts or pictures on a spouse’s social media account. The reasoning is that these posts and pictures were intended to be seen by the public and the poster has given up any right to privacy.
If you feel the need to vent your anger, do not do so on social media. See a licensed professional instead.
Character evidence becomes increasingly important as divorce negotiations progress. Attorneys from both sides will scrutinize social media for evidence of wrongdoing. This is especially prevalent during custody hearings. Here are a few things you can do to help mitigate any damages.
- Do not erase your accounts. It looks guilty, and even deleted material can be retrieved. What you should do instead is change your settings. The best course of action is to change your password and set your account on private.
- Refrain from posting damaging material about yourself while you are going through a divorce. That means any pictures of you drunk and out of control, even if it was just at a cousin’s wedding should not be posted. While you are undergoing a divorce, keep your social media pure. For the sake of appearances, you should take on the persona of a saint.
- You certainly should not be posting any photo of yourself on a date with someone else.
- Be sure that your friends are following these guidelines and don’t post anything that could embarrass you.
It can be very humiliating to have your life placed under a microscope. Consider this the next time you post anything on social media.
If you feel the need to vent your anger, do not do so on social media. See a licensed professional instead. The content found in text messages and phone calls can have a huge impact on negotiations.
Blocking each other from social media will likely prove very ineffective. Your spouse may have a mutual friend who still has access to your account. These friends can see your recent trip with a new “friend” or your purchase of a new car. Information as simple as that can damage your credibility if, for example, you are claiming financial hardship.
Social Media Postings To Avoid
- Photos or posts that you would not want your grandmother, preacher, children, or anyone close to you to see. This is a general rule to help you manage the divorce process.
- Posts that suggest or show you were in an unfaithful relationship.
- Posts that indicate alcohol intoxication, illegal drugs, or any unlawful or problematic actions.
- Posts about your child that could be interpreted negatively, indicating poor decision-making, or represent you negatively as a parent.
- Photos or videos that put your home, vehicles, or environment’s cleanliness and safety into question
- Posts, photographs, or videos that imply you are mentally unwell.
- Attacks against your former spouse, or anything that could be interpreted as such, especially posts hinting that you will restrict your former spouse from contacting or being with your child.
- “Likes” on websites or social media pages related to illegal drugs, criminal behavior, aggression, or anything else that your former spouse could use against you in a negative manner.
How you can use it in your favor:
When it comes to getting information against your spouse, the opposite would apply. If you are petitioning the court for sole custody of the children, for example, finding incriminating evidence of bad behavior on the part of your spouse can help your case. If you believe that there is incriminating evidence on your spouse’s social media accounts that could strengthen your case, make sure your attorney is aware of this.
We all are aware that social media offers the world a window into our lives. But sometimes, we forget just how harmful this can be. Divorces and paternity proceedings are one of those times. A good rule of thumb is never to post anything you wouldn’t want your mother to see. Better safe than sorry!
The legal process can get difficult, which is why we always recommend that you seek the assistance of counsel; or at least have a consultation. Schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys today to review the issues of your case, the legal options you may have, and certain rights that pertain to your unique situation.
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