As a divorce lawyer on Long Island, I often see the negative side of social media as it pertains to family law proceedings such as a divorce or child custody proceeding. Social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat are just a few of the mediums that are used by all generations and in cultures across the world. These are great tools for keeping in touch with family and friends and for sharing information, photos and videos, and for expressing yourself in a forum where others can hear you.
However, most people do not realize just how dangerous social media use can be to your divorce or family law case.
The emotional nature of family court and divorce proceedings can lead to many extremes on the emotional spectrum, including anger and desperation. Those facing divorce or high stress situations involving family and legal issues are best advised to keep their feelings off of social media. Unfortunately, the ease with which many people use social media makes most of the content posted without thinking through the ramifications at all. Many post personal and emotional outbursts impulsively, and can do significant harm to their case as a result.
Keeping your emotions in check during such stressful life transitions can be exceptionally difficult, especially where it concerns the breakdown of a marriage or arguing about custody of your children. It is human nature to want to communicate your feelings and seek validation from family and friends. However, a public forum like social media is simply not the place for this.
Your Social Media Posts Can Be Used Against You in Court
The best advice for those going through divorce or a family court proceeding is this: do not post anything on your social media accounts that is or can be perceived to be disparaging of yourself, your spouse, or any of the children or family members that might be involved. Simply put, it can be used against you later on, and could have a much bigger impact than you might think.
What Your Family & Friends Post Can Hurt You Legally
It is also advisable to let your close family and friends know that you do not want them to post anything that may reflect upon your or which may have a negative consequence on your legal issues. In many instances, family members and friends feel the same impulse to protect their loved one going through divorce or other family court matters by expressing their opinions and feelings on social media. While doing so may often be innocuous, disparaging comments, revealing photos, and offering any personal information, can produce results that are ultimately harmful. It is best for family members and friends to also err on the side of caution, so it may be helpful to make this suggestion to them.
Divorce Lawyers Look at Opposing Parties’ Social Accounts
Divorce lawyers and family law attorneys regularly look into the opposing party’s Facebook and other social media accounts in order to gather information that might be relevant to the case and helpful to their client. Some of the common culprits of harmful information:
- posting about new romantic partners
- comparing or saying negative things about a former partner
- status and photo updates about recent vacations or purchases that were paid for with your and your soon-to-be former spouse’s joint credit card
- photos of a litigant out partying during designated parenting time
- posting threats, angry outbursts, or private information about your spouse or the court proceedings.
All of these types of posts can and will likely be brought up in court and viewed negatively by the court.
Blocking your former partner from your social media accounts is not enough. Mutual friends or relatives accounts can be used to access your account instead. If you think that the temptation to post is too great, you might instead consider deactivating your accounts while your divorce or family law action is pending.
Have Questions? Call for a Free Divorce Lawyer Consultation
Robert E. Hornberger, Esq., is a Long Island Divorce Lawyer and Family Law Attorney experienced in addressing problems that arise from social media use when family law or divorce issues are concerned. If you reside in Nassau County, Suffolk County, or New York City, and you have a concern about social media use and your divorce or child custody proceedings, contact our office today at 631-923-1910 for a free consultation.
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