Like, comment, subscribe. Share, follow, retweet. For many of us, social media occupies a central role in our lives. The average person in 2020 spends 144 minutes per day on various social media platforms—a 62.5% increase from the one hour a day average measured in 2012. That rate of growth isn't slowing down.
Social media is an increasingly important player in one theatre of life many don't consider: divorce. In divorce cases, 81% of attorneys find evidence worth presenting to the court on social media, and 66% use Facebook as a source of principle evidence.
Understanding how to handle social media before and during the divorce process can help you reach your desired divorce judgment more easily. That's why we're giving out our best tips for how you should approach social media during your divorce.
To receive a consultation from an experienced divorce attorney, contact us online or give us a call at (615) 239-1374.
Don't Post Something You'll Regret
This advice may seem simple, but you'd be surprised. It's easy to get carried away and post a video or two of that night out with your friends. A beautiful photo of a vintage bottle of wine on your Instagram may turn into 'evidence' that you're an unfit parent with a drinking habit, depending on how aggressive your ex's attorney is.
As a general rule of thumb: If there's even the slightest chance something could be used against you out of context or taken the wrong way by a judge, don't post it on your social media.
That also goes for posts about how happy you are to be divorced or negative sentiments about your ex. Most courts favor the individual who puts their best foot forward during the divorce process. Even if it's difficult to bite your tongue and refrain from posting negatively about your ex—particularly if you're estranged or they've wronged you in some significant way—hold off until the divorce is finalized.
Don't Delete Posts
There's a reason people say "once it's on the internet, it's there forever." You may be able to delete a post on social media, but that doesn't mean it's not on the internet. Your ex's attorney may have taken a screenshot before you deleted it. Some tools allow individuals to trawl back through the history of social media sites to see deleted posts long after they're gone.
Deleting social media posts only makes it look like you have something to hide, which isn't good for your image. The same goes for privating your accounts. You want to avoid taking any actions that make it appear as though you're trying to present a false image to the court.
As we mentioned earlier, courts tend to favor individuals who are open and honest during the divorce process. A judge will probably be more lenient if you admit to making a mistake and explain your reasoning than they will if you try to hide something you posted on your social media profile once upon a time.
Assume Nothing Is Sacred
Many people make the mistake of assuming an attorney will only ask to see publicly available posts on a major social media platform such as Facebook. That's not necessarily true.
While attorneys will prioritize publicly available information on major platforms, they won't hesitate to go digging for more. For example, if your ex alleges you committed adultery, an attorney may try and dig up evidence of a dating app profile to support that allegation.
Frequently, information individuals presume is private, such as text messages, are opened up as evidence during divorce cases. For individuals who are required to maintain a certain level of security or confidentiality in their profession (lawyers, doctors, therapists, etc.), this can represent a problem. If you have confidential information on your phone stored in a location like a text message or a direct message over social media, you'll need to petition the judge to seal that evidence to prevent it from being used in court. Sealing evidence can incur additional court fees, making it a costly endeavor.
In general, assume nothing is sacred. Be prepared to petition to seal confidential information if necessary, and assume your ex's attorney will dig through a significant amount of your social media history across several different accounts.
The prevalence of social media in our day-to-day lives presents attorneys with unique challenges during the divorce process. By handling your online image with care, you can help ensure that your social media accounts aren't used against you in the courtroom.
To receive a consultation about your divorce from a knowledgeable divorce lawyer, contact us online or via phone at (615) 239-1374.