In recent years, it has become common practice to use evidence gathered from social media websites in all types of family law cases. Evidence from Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, dating websites, and blogs is now routinely used in divorce, alimony, child support, child custody, and visitation cases. Sometimes, this type of evidence is introduced in an attempt to distract from the real issues at the core of a family law case. But it can also be critically important and highly persuasive.
This post will discuss how social media can impact your custody or support case, and provide tips on which online behaviors to avoid during family law proceedings.
Social media posts can provide clues about income and hidden assets.
Some people can’t resist posting pictures of lavish vacations, expensive meals, new cars, and designer clothes online. When support is at issue in a divorce case or other family law proceeding, these types of photos can debunk a parent or spouse’s contentions that he or she is unable to make child or spousal support payments. Moreover, Facebook pictures of your spouse’s best friend from college with his/her new motorcycle – one you instantly recognize as belonging to your spouse – can support your contention that he/she is hiding assets until your divorce is finalized.
Social media posts about alcohol and drugs can impact custody determinations.
A tweet about a “crazy Friday night out at the bars” may seem harmless, but if you miss your child’s Saturday morning soccer game the following day, it will not help your case. Similarly, social media posts about drug and alcohol use could persuade a court that you or the opposing party is not fit to be the primary custodian of your child. In the most serious cases, social media posts chronicling drug or alcohol abuse may spark a child welfare investigation.
Social media posts about an active court matter can upset your family court judge.
If you are involved in an active family court case, it is best not to post about the proceedings online. Parties who vent about the “incompetent judge” or “lazy court staff” working on their case on social media websites will not help their chances at getting what they want in the matter. Sometimes, family court judges will specifically request that parties refrain from publicly discussing their case. In this case, social media posts about your case could violate a court order and you could be held in contempt of court.
If you are involved in a family court case, avoid these 10 social media behaviors.
You should always be careful about what you post on social media. But when you’re involved in an active family court case, here are 10 social media behaviors to avoid entirely:
Posting complaints or negative statements about your spouse or children.Maintaining a dating profile that states you are “single” before your divorce is finalized.Referencing alcohol or drug use or your “party” lifestyle, especially when child custody is at issue.Posting provocative pictures of yourself to social media or dating websites.Venting about your active court case or a decision in favor of the other party.Posting about your new boyfriend or girlfriend before your divorce is finalized.Sharing private information about your spouse or children.Posting pictures of luxury purchases if child or spousal support, or division of assets, is at issue.Disclosing any information that was communicated to you in a confidential setting.Posting about your weekend plans when you were supposed to be with your children.
In short, a “Like” on Facebook is never worth losing time with your children or support payments. If you have questions about how social media might impact your family court case, contact an experienced family law attorney.