Social media sites are so much a part of life that most people don’t give them a second thought. You may read your emails or messages before your feet even hit the floor in the morning. The last thing you do before going to sleep might be to have one last look at Facebook.
If you are like many people, you may also find some release in posting frequent statuses to let your friends know what you are doing or how you feel. However, if you are on the brink of divorce, you should be aware of how seriously your social media presence and other digital communication can affect your case.
Divorce may force private information into the open
Even if you keep your phone under lock and key, your future-ex’s attorney can subpoena your emails and texts if there is a suspicion that they may contain damning information. Emails can be as powerful as a live witness testifying against you.
Emails, texts or posts revealing anything you may have omitted in court could turn the proceedings in your opponent’s favor. Similarly, if your digital communication details anything different from what you admitted during discovery or testimony, it may jeopardize your standing during asset division or child custody determinations.
One example is when people disclose low incomes or minimal financial resources to avoid paying alimony or child support. If a person’s social media contains pictures or descriptions of expensive trips or outrageous spending, or if there is evidence of undisclosed sources of income, the court may rule against him or her.
Time stamps don’t lie
Because every email, text and post you make has a digital stamp with a date and time, anyone looking at your social media or emails will know when an event happened. Pictures of you with someone who is not your spouse could be used against you when alimony deliberations begin. Your ill-timed registration on a dating site may lead to the assumption that you have been unfaithful.
Child custody issues may hinge on social media. Photos of a parent drinking or behaving inappropriately at times when he or she should have been watching the children may cause the court to deem the parent unfit to have custody.
Discontinue but don’t delete
Some people use their social media as a diary or journal to reveal thoughts and actions that they should probably keep private. Digital communication is anything but private, especially when you are going through a divorce.
Attorneys do not recommend that you deactivate your social media or delete any incriminating posts. In fact, the court may see this as destruction of evidence if divorce proceedings have already begun.
The best option is to follow your attorney’s advice. This may mean taking the difficult step of giving up your social media until the divorce settlement is final.