There is no doubt that modern technology is raising extra concerns for people facing a contested divorce. Thanks to the proliferation of social media, there is now more evidence than ever to show exactly what each partner did before and has done since the separation. This evidence can change the course of settlement negotiations and even hurt your chances of getting alimony or custody in a trial.
Why is social media dangerous during a divorce?
Click to read infographic about social media and divorce.
Social media can work in your favor during a divorce. We can:
- Investigate where your partner is going and with whom
- Build a timeline of events, and determine if s/he is behaving inappropriately
- Use any of his/her posts about the divorce to support your case
- Learn about income and hidden assets through social media posts
This last one is particularly important. Sometimes, a divorcing partner or his/her friend posts pictures from a vacation or other event with that shows extravagant spending or travels with a paramour. This can drastically impact child support, asset division, alimony, or other aspects of a divorce.
Social media can help you gather evidence to support your claim. Of course, it can also work against you in the same way. For this reason, you must pay careful attention to how you use these websites during a divorce.
In some cases, social media posts can even turn an amicable divorce into a contested one. We see this happen when:
- One partner lies to or misleads his/her spouse and the truth comes out online
- One spouse discovers the other’s affair or a new paramour online
- One partner posts untrue or unflattering things about the other
- One spouse posts details of the divorce on social networks
Should I remain friends with my spouse? What about our mutual friends?
Many people wonder how to handle their social media connections with their partner and mutual friends during a split. If you have children and will co-parent with him/her, you may want to try to remain on friendly terms.
You might think this hurts your case since your partner has access to everything on your page. The truth is that nothing you post on social media is private. Mutual friends, vindictive connections, or even fake profiles can screenshot or otherwise record posts and pass them along, even if your spouse is not a “friend” on the network.
Do I need to deactivate my accounts?
You do not need to deactivate your social media accounts, but it is paramount that you follow some best practices to prevent endangering your case. We advise clients to stop using all these networks while the divorce is pending. You can always pick up where you left off once we finalize the divorce. If you need to deactivate your account to prevent yourself from using it or posting updates that might hurt your case, that is OK.
What about just deleting anything questionable?
While deactivating is OK, it is important to never delete your account or even questionable posts. Lawyers can subpoena these accounts and posts. The court could consider this destruction of evidence, depending on the situation.
It is also good to remember that once something is on the internet, it is out there forever. Someone can take a screenshot of your post, a search engine can cache copies, and even some social networks keep backups of your data.
Guidelines for Social Media Use During Divorce
If you need to use social media for work, or simply cannot refrain from Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter during your divorce, it is important to follow these best practices:
- Do not discuss your divorce online
- Do not make negative comments about your spouse or relationship
- Do not post about purchases, trips, or social gatherings
- Beware of even seemingly benign comments
- Do not use “check-ins”
- Change your privacy settings so friends cannot check you in
- Do not post pictures of yourself at social gatherings
- Disable picture tagging by others
- Never forget that you and your former partner likely have mutual friends
- Strictly limit who can see any update you post
- Be wary of any new friend requests
Need more information about social media and your Spokane divorce?
At David J. Crouse & Associates, PLLC, our Spokane divorce lawyers understand the dangers social media poses in a divorce or child custody case. We help ensure our clients understand the potential downfalls of Facebook and other social networks during the divorce process.
At the same time, we can also use these networks to collect evidence against their former partners. To learn more about how we can help build a strong case to support your Spokane divorce, call us today at 509-624-1380.