The Impact of Social Media in Divorce Cases

As more and more people are learning the hard way, Facebook posts and other social media activities have a way of coming back to haunt their authors in surprising ways. One area where people often fail to anticipate the effects of social media use is in divorce proceedings, where a single ill-considered upload has the potential to turn a property settlement, alimony decree or child custody battle on its head.

More than 80 percent of divorce lawyers report having seen a substantial uptick in the use of evidence pulled from Facebook, Twitter, MySpace and other social networking sites in divorce cases since 2006, according to a survey conducted by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers.

The things you post on sites like Facebook and Twitter could end up being used against you in divorce court in a variety of ways. One of the most common uses of social media evidence in divorce cases is to provide evidence of infidelity or deception during the marriage, often in the form of photographs or correspondence.

In other cases, things people post online may be used as evidence to contradict statements they make during divorce proceedings, to establish their location at a certain time, or to show their attitude toward a spouse or children during the divorce. For example, people sometimes contradict their testimony as to their income by exaggerating their wealth on social media sites and in postings, which can negatively impact child and spousal support proceedings. Pictures of new cars or lavish vacations posted on Facebook or Twitter will not support one's claim that support is needed from a former spouse.

To keep social media from sabotaging your divorce settlement, it helps to take a few precautions. First and foremost, remember that nothing you post online is guaranteed to remain private. This is true even if you are selective about your friend list and set your posts to "private," since you have no control over what other people may do with the content you post after you upload it.

Also, think carefully before you post an update, photo or comment, and consider whether it could possibly be used against you if it fell into the wrong hands. Bear in mind that something you may view as a joke can easily be taken out of context and misconstrued to make you look bad - and when in doubt, don't post. Resist the urge to post comments about your ex or the divorce, and if you feel the need to vent, do it offline.

For more information on how social media may affect your divorce, contact a knowledgeable divorce attorney in your area.