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Social Media and Your Family Law Case

Posted by Shawn Murphy | Apr 13, 2023 | 0 Comments

Social media is constantly growing every day and changing the way in which we communicate with each other. In the past people wrote letters and talked face to face or on the phone. Nowadays everything is about Tweeting, sharing TikToks, and Instant Messaging each other. Social media has become such a part of our everyday lives that you could go online and catch up with a person by simply looking at one of their various social media pages. 

However, social media posts can worsen the difficult dynamics at play during a divorce. The best advice is to stop using social media during your divorce. If you don't post anything it won't trigger your spouse to retaliate and it won't lead to the acquisition of evidence that could harm your case.  People post almost everything about their lives on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and so on. This information may be seemingly harmless to the poster, but in fact can be used against them in court proceedings.  We all know the advice that you should not post photographs or comments on social media networks that you wouldn't want to your mother or pastor to see. If you have to question whether to post it or not…DON'T! 

If you continue to use social media, don't post anything negative about the other parent, or soon to be ex-spouse, or other family members. Now is not the time to use social media to vent. Never post anything when you are upset.  But even seemingly positive posts can lead to problems during your dissolution case. Even if you are posting positive updates, you do not want to let your ex find out on Facebook or Instagram that you went on vacation with your new partner and your kids. This could be used against you to prove you have the money to pay more in support, or that you are exposing your children to a new mate too soon and cause a custody battle.  Photos of hangouts with friends can lead to accusations of a partying lifestyle.

Another issue is that in any relationship breakup, friends and family can and will take sides.  Be cautious about who you friend or allow to follow you on social media networks. Just because you are not friends with the opposing party doesn't mean that your friends aren't feeding them information.  In fact, this happens all the time.  If you stay online, know who your friends are, and the people you trust. Unfriend everyone else.  As long as the information is not obtained illegally, you and/or the opposing party can use the social media information in any way desired as long as it fits within the Rules of Evidence.

Additionally, during any family case (and after, if tensions are continue to run high) you should take the following actions to secure your social media accounts:

  • De-publish your relationship status;
  • Change your privacy settings to the highest level possible. Ask associates with whom you are not friends with or use security checking settings to see how much information on your pages is available to the general public.
  • Don't share your location when posting anything online. It can be damaging to a case, especially to post your location in bars, clubs, casinos, etc.
  • Ask your friends and family to not tag you in photos or posts. Even better, disable tagging, if possible, to eliminate the risk.
  • Keep the details of your divorce private and do not discuss them online.
  • Keep an eye on your children's social media posts and usage. Understand which platforms they are using and make sure you can see their posts.
  • Be wary of deleting any posts!!! Deleting posts after a Summons and Petition has been filed may constitute destruction of evidence in violation of your obligations duties to preserve Electronically Stored Information and Evidence. Before you delete anything at all, consult with a licensed divorce attorney.  In the interim, you can make any questionable posts (or even better your entire profile) private.
  • Update your passwords and change them so that only you have access to your accounts.  
  • Change your security questions with answers your spouse won't know.
  • Ask friends and family not to post negatively about your spouse.

Lastly, while this is not a social media issue, use caution if you have a shared apple or iCloud account.  All apple devices upload all data, including the contents of emails and text messages to the iCloud by default.  If you share an apple account or phone service with your spouse or mate, they very likely have access to all your emails and text messages, including any privileged communications between you and your attorney.  Sever your apple accounts immediately and get off a shared family plan before you engage in any communications with anyone you do not want your soon to be ex to see.

About the Author

Shawn Murphy

Attorney - Certified Family Law Specialist


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