Your Social Media Posts Can Help / Hurt Your Divorce
Social Media such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, MySpace, etc., are becoming ever more important in Long Island divorce and family court cases. Both litigants (the parties involved in the case) and practitioners (lawyers, attorneys, etc.) need to be aware of the ramifications of anything you or your client or the opposing party posts to social media sites.
Social Media Posts Can Be Used Against You
Your social media posts can be used against you or the opposing party or counsel and can have a critical effect, either negative or positive, on your divorce or family law case. Both Nassau County and Suffolk County Family Courts have admitted social media posts or statements as evidence for and against litigants in the case.
Criminal versus Civil Cases
There is a very important major distinction between criminal and civil cases of which most litigants are unaware:
- In Civil Cases, such as Divorce and Family Law, a defendant does not have a right not to testify. In other words, you can be required to testify against yourself. You, as either a plaintiff or a defendant, can be called as a witness.
- In Criminal Cases, the defendant has a right not to testify and can refuse to be a witness against him or herself.
‘Hearsay’ Can Be Used in Civil Cases
We’ve all seen lawyers on TV cry, “Objection: Hearsay!” to get oral evidence made in court disregarded by the judge and jury. But what exactly is hearsay and when is it not admissible? Hearsay is loosely defined as any out of court statement made by a party or witness that is being introduced during the course of a hearing or trial to prove the truth of the out of court statement. Generally, hearsay is not admissible during the course of a hearing or trial because of its inherent unreliability, however, there are exceptions. A major exception to the hearsay rule is that a statement made out of court by a party to an action is deemed admissible, because, that party has the ability to take the stand during the hearing or trial to refute the statement. This is where Social Media comes in. In a civil case, Social Media is admissible against a litigant because the litigant has an opportunity to refute the statement in court.
Be Careful What You Post on Social Media
Parties to civil actions, particularly divorce and family court matters, need to know that the statements they make on social media such as Facebook and Twitter can be used against them at the ultimate hearing or trial. For instance, a party to a divorce action wherein spousal support is an issue may not want to brag on social media that they recently received a raise at work. Or, in a custody case, a parent seeking custody may not want to brag how they went out drinking while their child(ren) were in their custody. The examples are endless.
In conclusion, parties to civil actions, particularly divorce and family court matters on Long Island and throughout New York, need to curtail and be very careful about what they post on social media sites. Attorneys representing clients in these types of matters should try to ethically and carefully discover the social media statements made by the other party. Be aware that every jurisdiction has its own ethical rules to which lawyers must adhere when attempting to acquire these types of statements.
The attorneys at Hornberger Verbitsky, P.C. are conscientious about staying abreast of the latest trends in legal matters in Nassau County and Suffolk County Divorce and Family Law Courts on Long Island, NY and are available to answer your questions regarding these matters at any time. For a free private consultation about your needs, contact the experienced attorneys at Robert E. Hornberger, PC at 631-923-1910 or fill out the form on this page and we’ll get right back to you.