According to the Pew Research Center, the majority of adults that are online are engaged on social media networking sites . More specifically, 74% of the adults online are social networking users. 82% of online adults between the ages of 30 and 49 use social media, and 65% of online adults between the ages of 50 and 64 use social media. With these numbers, it is not too surprising that social media posts are utilized by divorce and family law attorneys in court against the opposing party.
Many divorce and family law attorneys will advise their clients to deactivate their social media accounts or, at the very least, reset their profile settings so that their posts can't be viewed by the general public. This advice is given to minimize the risks of their posts inadvertently providing evidence for their spouse in court. The more proactive option is to delete one’s social media accounts so that mutual friends cannot share your posts with your spouse. With that being said, you should under no circumstances seek to destroy evidence by deleting your previous posts in the anticipation of trial or litigation. Deactivating your accounts and deleting your posts are not synonymous.
Generally, your social media posts are admissible as evidence against you in court if they were not obtained by illegal or deceitful methods. An attorney or your spouse cannot create a fake profile to friend you and then use the posts on your profile as evidence in court. Likewise, your ex cannot hack into your social media account profiles and use the discovered posts as evidence. On the other hand, your public posts that can be viewed by anyone on the world wide web may legitimately be used as evidence. Also, if one of your social media friends or followers were to share the posts they are able to view with your ex, then your ex may legitimately use those posts as well.
The social media posts of either party may show evidence of almost anything: a cheating spouse with their mistress on vacation, bragging posts about a new job when they claim to be unable to work to avoid paying child support, posts listing their new employer when they have been avoiding providing that information, posts showing new cars and homes when they claim to have no assets and no money, pictures of the new baby and engagement ring posted in the middle of a divorce proceeding, inappropriate rants about their ex, pictures of inappropriate behavior around the children in the middle of a custody battle, and the list goes on and on. Social media posts may also provide clues that lead a family law attorney to investigate an issue further through the formal discovery process for their client.
Social media can be a powerful investigative tool during a divorce or child custody process, especially when one or both parties are careless and/or reckless with their social media posts. When in the middle of a pending court case like a divorce or child custody matter, you should act as if your actions are being examined under a microscope. Your spouse or ex may use your actions against you in court if it helps their position. If you are posting negative or incriminating posts on social media for your spouse or ex to discover, then you are putting your case at risk. If you are in the process of a litigious and contentious divorce, child custody or child support matter pending in a court, you should think twice before posting. If you have any questions about your social media use or social media posts you wish to use as evidence in court, contact a divorce or family law attorney.