Social Media and Family Law: What To Avoid During A Divorce or Custody Proceeding

For most people, our smartphones are a regular, if not large presence in our daily lives. While it has become a regular practice to share the goings on of our lives through our many apps and social media accounts, especially large milestones, some thoughts or experiences are best left private. The details of, or your feelings and opinions about, your divorce or custody proceeding are excellent examples.

It is a very common practice for attorneys to use social media posts, emails, and text messages as evidence in court. This can include screen shots of text messages, printouts of email chains, status updates, Facebook Marketplace advertisements, memberships in certain social media groups, etc. Here are just a few things to keep in mind when it comes to our smartphones during a divorce or custody proceeding:

  • What you post or say to your spouse and others can be used to support a claim of harassing or threatening behavior, recklessness, addiction, and even lack of fitness as a parent.
    • The instantaneous nature of online posts and text messages can make it easy to make our thoughts and feelings public without thinking about the consequences first. An angry text to an ex or soon-to-be-ex can take seconds to send, but may have long-lasting ramifications. Even a seemingly innocent picture posted with a new romantic partner, a group of friends out for cocktails, or a quick snap of a concert or night out can be captured forever and used to indicate a lack of parental judgment.
  • What you post or say about your financial situation or new purchases can be used in the opposing party’s calculation of spousal maintenance or child support.
    • Social media and public boards and forums are great ways to interact with others and even to sell unwanted or un-needed household goods. However, a Facebook Marketplace advertisement selling household goods or a post celebrating the purchase of a new car can be used as evidence of a change in your financial status and can be used for an argument against your best interests in the calculation of child support or spousal maintenance.

In short, most social media accounts have functions that allow you to pause or temporarily suspend them. During a dissolution or custody proceeding, it may be a wise decision to do so.

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