How Social Media Posts are Used as Evidence in Divorce Cases
Social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter are used by the majority of people throughout the United States. However, as these new platforms develop and continue to be used by most Americans, they have proven to be an invaluable source of evidence in divorce cases. For those spouses who claim to be unable to make child support payments, to those spouses who have avoided work to pay spousal support, social media posts are now being used throughout the country as evidence in divorce cases.What can Social Media Prove?
If your spouse, or your spouse’s attorney, is able to discover information posted by you, or other parties about you online, they may discover any of the following scenarios:
- One spouse was cheating on the other spouse
- New job when the spouse claimed to be unemployed (to avoid paying child support or spousal support)
- Posts showing new homes, cars, or other large purchases (when the spouse claimed they did not have enough money to pay child support or spousal support)
- Pictures of a new engagement ring, or new baby during the process of a divorce proceeding
- Inappropriate material regarding either themselves or their spouse
- Inappropriate behavior surrounding or regarding their children
According to Pew Research, in 2019, 72% of the public uses some type of social media. With almost three-quarters of all Americans on social media, the chances that one spouse is using some form of social media platform is high. In many cases, a spouse has not removed the privacy settings from their Facebook or Instagram account, meaning that absolutely anyone (including a divorce attorney for the other side) can easily see these posts and use them as evidence in a divorce proceeding. In the cases in which the privacy setting is set to a more secure level, information may still be obtained regarding the account.
Oftentimes, spouses will have mutual friends who will obtain information for one spouse on behalf of the other, as they have access to the Facebook, Instagram or Twitter posts as a “friend” on these platforms. In other cases, a spouse may be inclined to create a fake profile of a mutual friend and request to be a “friend” to the spouse to see what they are posting online. Ultimately, the best practice is to simply disable and stop using all social media accounts if you are in the process of a divorce. However, if that is not possible, assume that no matter what your privacy settings are, anyone and everyone will be able to see all of your posts, photographs and social media activity.Never Delete Anything on Social Media
You may make a mistake and upload a photograph or make a comment on social media that you later regret. Perhaps you posted a photograph of a recent lavish vacation or shopping spree. Perhaps you wrote something horribly negative about your spouse. Maybe you posted inappropriate pictures of yourself out drinking at night. Whatever the post or photograph was, you should never delete anything from your social media accounts. The courts have determined that if a party to a case ever destroys anything that could possibly be used as evidence in a divorce proceeding, they may be charged with obstruction of justice. It is always best to simply leave the post or photograph and never make the same mistake again. Attempting to remove it could cause additional legal problems along with the original post or photograph itself.Final Important Note: Always Disable Your Location
If you are in the process of a divorce with a spouse who is violent, abusive, or manipulative, you should consider disabling your location on all of your electronic devices and those of your children. If you feel your spouse may abduct your children, however, it may be best to leave these location trackers on your children’s device as it may help police find your children if they are ever taken by your spouse. However, for your sake, if you fear for your safety, you should always disable your location, which will prevent your spouse from locating you through your cell phone. Always contact the police immediately if you feel that you, or your children, are ever in any danger.Contact an Experienced Divorce Attorney
If you are considering a divorce, contact an experienced divorce attorney in the greater Charlotte area of North Carolina to help you understand your legal rights, and how best to build a strong case to obtain the child support, spousal support, and best child custody arrangements that you deserve. Contact an experienced divorce attorney at Arnold & Smith, PLLC at 704.370.2828 or online today to schedule your consultation.