Social media and the Internet can be wonderful tools to stay in contact with friends and family. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other platforms can all help us share moments of our lives with our loved ones, even when we live far away. Social media can also have its pitfalls, however, especially when it comes to family law. Because the very nature of a family law case is intensely personal, some parties to divorce or child custody may have the tendency to want to discuss the case or related issues through their social media accounts. Parties to family law cases need to understand that this can be potentially detrimental to their case.
Even though you may have changed your settings in order to keep your soon-to-be-former spouse from seeing your Facebook profile, that does not mean that you are safe to rant against your spouse and spill “dirty laundry.” During most cases, the parties will go through a procedure called “discovery,” during which your spouse may request a copy of your Facebook statuses dating back for months. These statuses may be admissible evidence. This is especially important where you or your spouses is either denying spending time with a certain person, such as a new boyfriend, or may be making false statements about income. People tend to make disclosures on social media about big purchases and vacations. If you or your spouse is claiming to be strapped for money but then make splashy posts on Facebook or Instagram about a new boat, the court is unlikely to believe a claim of inability to pay spousal maintenance or an unplanned loss of income that should be accounted for in a child support calculation.
Disparaging remarks on social media can also impact your child custody case. If your child is old enough to use social media, you should be very cautious to not discuss the custody case and especially not to make bad statements about the other parent on your social media accounts. Courts may very well take it into account, as each parent’s effort to make sure the child maintains a positive relationship with the other parent goes into a best interest determination. Statements indicating you refuse to cooperate with the other parent or are attempting to “get back” at him or her will also be relevant for child custody.
Although social media is a great way to stay in touch, don’t let it undermine your family law case. Call us today at (320) 299-4249 to talk about your custody or divorce issues.