Social media is great – except when it’s not. Most of us know that as much as social media can bring people together, it can also have a negative effect on relationships, especially broken marriages.
That’s why it’s important for you to exercise caution with social media if you’re separated, considering a divorce, or in a custody battle with someone in a Paternity case wherein you were never married. In fact, you may want to consider deleting your social media profiles altogether or going on a social media cleanse—but be sure to consult with an attorney before deleting what could be considered evidence in a civil or criminal matter. Here are some important considerations for using social media during a family law conflict:
Social Media is Evidence
If you’re going through divorce proceedings or a potential custody battle, be aware that all social media posts, messages, and even emails can be used as evidence against you in court to prove things like drug and alcohol abuse, income and asset withholding, allegations of domestic violence and/or irresponsible behavior related to childcare.
Some states adhere to “fault-based” policies, meaning that one spouse is litigated against for causing the marriage to fail through abuse, abandonment, drug dependency, or adultery. In those states, a spouse who has an affair or commits otherwise wrongful marital behaviors is at risk for losing assets.
However, California is a “no-fault” divorce state—so you won’t have to worry about who’s “at-fault” for the divorce. But your behavior can still be used as justification for receiving lower spousal support (previously known as “alimony”) payments, loss of child custody, or an increase in childcare payments.
For example, if you (or any of your friends or followers) post pictures, make statements, or “tag” you in situations that imply you’re hiding assets from your ex-spouse, this could be used as evidence to modify your child support or spousal support order. Similarly, if your posts reflect that you spend a lot of time out late at clubs or bars, it might be argued that you can’t really handle taking care of your child and may have a substance abuse problem.
Overall, it’s best to keep yourself off of social media as much as possible, if not entirely, during this time, and after. Even if you watch what you post, your friends, family, and new partners might jeopardize your situation without even realizing it.
Social Media is Public
Keep in mind that anything you post on social media (even with private settings) is never really private. Even if you delete something, people may have screenshot it, and certain data can be recovered from apps that you might have forgotten about.
Even if you don’t allow your ex-spouse or their friends to follow or connect with you, keep in mind that you might have dozens of mutual friends or family members that are continuing to feed information to your ex-spouse, even unintentionally.
You must think about any children that might be involved in the divorce as well. Your children shouldn’t get caught in the middle of you and your ex’s drama. Even if you don’t have children with your ex, think about any nieces, nephews, younger cousins, or even friends’ children that might see something you didn’t intend for them to see.
Social media is public. Remember this rule of thumb: it’s best to not say anything on it that you wouldn’t say to everyone that you know in-person. If you feel the need to vent about your divorce, call a trusted friend or get in touch with a therapist.
Social Media is Impersonal
A divorce or custody battle can be a very difficult time in your life. Social media isn’t always the best place for you to seek comfort and reassurance or to vent about the other side. This is a time for reflection and a focus on your personal, mental, and physical health.
At Negley Law, APC we’re here to help as you navigate this challenging time. We can help take the burden of the legal proceedings off your shoulders so that you can focus on rebuilding your life and looking to your future. If you have questions or concerns about how to conduct yourself during a divorce, please contact us. The initial consultation with one of our dedicated family law attorneys is free. NOTE: The information contained herein is not intended to be legal advice and the reader should know that no Attorney-Client relationship or privilege is formed by the posting or reading of this article which is also not intended to solicit business.
John J. Negley, Jr., CFLS*
NEGLEY LAW, APC
200 E Santa Clara St #200, Ventura, CA 93001
*Certified Family Law Specialist by the California State Bar Board of Legal Specialization.