Updated: Aug 1, 2019
It is no secret that Americans have a love/hate relationship with social media. The vast majority of us make use of at least one form of social media, yet we also express concern about issues such as bullying and loss of privacy. Although it is always advisable to mindful of what you put online, such caution is especially important when going through a divorce. Remember, even if you are no longer connected to your spouse, or if you have blocked him or her, there may be a friend in common that you have forgotten to remove.
Social media posts are discoverable and can provide a treasure trove of evidence that can be used against you in a court battle, and there is no expectation of privacy for something that is posted in a public forum. Moreover, you can’t just go back and delete posts once you are involved in a divorce (or any court case, for that matter). Doing so can leave you open to monetary sanctions for destruction (or “spoliation”) of evidence and the fact that you destroyed the evidence may be used against you in court.
Although the safest option may be to take a complete break from social media during your divorce, that may not be realistic for many people. If you do stay on social media, here are a few tips to keep your posts from coming back to haunt you.
· Don’t post about new things you’ve purchased. Doing so can paint an unrealistic picture of your financial situation and can affect the Court’s view of your income and, ultimately, such things as awards of spousal maintenance.
· Don’t harass or post negative comments about your soon-to-be ex. Such posts can be infuriating and make your spouse less willing to negotiate or enter into a settlement. Furthermore, such posts can be used as evidence of anger issues or mental instability.
· Don’t post photos of you partying. As tempting as it may be, posting that photo of you passed out on the bathroom floor surrounded by empty beer bottles (yes, I’ve seen parties do so) is NOT going to send a great message when you are trying to showcase your parenting skills as part of a custody or parenting time dispute.
· Don’t complain about parenting duties. Grumbling about having to care for your kids won’t play well in front of a judge. If custody and parenting time are at issue, such posts will work against you.
· Don’t post things that put your credibility in question. Credibility is vital when you are in a legal battle. If you have stated in a deposition that your coin collection is only worth a few hundred dollars, but then post an ad on Craigslist attempting to sell it for several thousand dollars, you will seriously damage your credibility with the Court.
· Don’t post anything that suggests you are violating a court order. Such orders are NOT suggestions; they are commands. If a judge orders you not to do something, don’t do it, and for the love of god, don’t post a photo of you doing it. Doing so is a great way to find yourself on the wrong end of a contempt finding.
The bottom line is to remember that anything you post may eventually end up in front of a judge. If you wouldn’t want him or her to see it, don’t post it.
To discuss divorce, or other family law matters, call Kruse Family Law at 612.231.9865 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.