Tips for Using Social Media During Your Divorce
Social media may initially seem like the perfect way to transition from married to single life. Facebook, Twitter, YouTube or a personal blog offer you a place to meet new friends, reconnect with old flames and vent your frustrations. However, the warning “user beware” should be heeded. Your spouse may use these same tools to gather valuable evidence to use against you in divorce proceedings.
In a 2010 survey conducted by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (AAML), 81 percent of family attorneys who responded said they had seen an increase in the use of social media as evidence in the previous five years. In an article published in the Minnesota State Bar Association Bench & Bar magazine, the author reports that the civil courts have allowed use of social media evidence collected through both formal discovery and informal methods, such as a Google search.
Before logging on, consider these tips for social media use during divorce:
- Do not rely on privacy settings — Websites’ privacy policies change constantly and are not foolproof. Marking something as private does not always make it so. Also, a tech-savvy attorney may still be able to find information you thought you deleted.
- Be careful about who you “friend” — Friending gives a person access to your information. Many of your marital friends may maintain dual loyalties or may even purposely seek friend status specifically to obtain information for your spouse.
- Remember, a picture speaks a thousand words — Photographs make compelling evidence but can easily be misinterpreted. Your night out may have no bearing on your parenting abilities but, if your spouse is claiming your excessive partying is harming your kids, photographs of your evening’s indulgences can be damaging evidence against you.
- Recognize how easily your information can go viral — Technology allows easy sharing of information with dozens of people with one click of the button. Multiply this exponentially and your personal message has now gone viral. Assume every message you send over social media is available to your spouse.
- Think about how your posts reflect your finances — If you are requesting or challenging spousal or child support or fighting over assets, posting pictures or comments about your vacation or new car can raise uncomfortable questions by the judge.
Alternatively, you may consider avoiding social media until your divorce is final.
A qualified St. Paul divorce lawyer can explain more about how social media evidence can harm your case.