Call Today: 847-556-8846

Category: Family Law

Use of Social Media during a Family Law Case

Blog post author headshot

Written by O. Long Law on 9.5.23

In our current society, we are constantly scrolling through social media or posting on it. If you didn’t post it, then it didn’t happen. Social media platforms have allowed us to keep in touch, share memories, and remember past events. With many families being scattered across the country, the need to stay active on social media platforms has become even more prevalent. In ordinary circumstances, capturing a moment and then immediately uploading it to your social media of choice is perfectly fine. However, when you are involved in a divorce or child custody matter, a once innocent photo can now have drastically different results.

Posting a picture of your meal while you’re out for a fancy dinner or while you’re at a friend’s birthday party? Usually, it would be OK to go ahead and freely post about this, but not now when you claim you can’t afford your spousal support or possibly intoxicated adults, and your intoxication surrounding your kids can also be questioned. Having any social media presence puts you in front of an audience and can cause an impact. Consulting with an attorney will help to manage both things.

Attorneys do not have to try too hard to gain access to publicly available posts; this includes comments, images, and videos shared on all social media sites. Just as it is at your fingertips, it is at theirs, and this information can be used as evidence against you in court. If you currently have an open court case, the best recommendation is to wait to post on social media until your case is resolved.

Examples Of Behavior That Could Have A Negative Effect

DELETING: DO NOT DELETE! Do not delete your social media accounts, posts, messages, conversations, or comments. Just because you delete something doesn’t mean that the opposing party or their counsel didn’t already find that evidence and preserve it through a screenshot. What could seem like an innocent action could then be seen as the destruction of evidence, which is illegal. Once an attorney has taken your case, you and the attorney have a legal obligation to save data.

Being active online: Everything you do online can be seen and tracked. If you decide to like a comment on someone else’s post or if you comment on a company’s website. The opposing party can see all these actions, and they can use that content in any way that can advance their cause. The posts you’re tagged in could also cause issues in the future, as you cannot control the audience. It would be a good idea to have a conversation with your friends and family about your need for a lack of social media presence while your case is moving through the system. It is hard to control your tone and what is posted of you when it is not coming from you, so do your best to minimize your online presence.

Things To Change

Make your account(s) private: Go into your settings within all your social media accounts to modify your settings to private. When you make your account private, the only people that can view your account or the things that you post are those who are already your friends.

Passwords: Make sure you change the passwords to all your social media accounts as soon as possible. It is possible that you once shared passwords with your ex, so to ensure that they cannot access your accounts, it is best to change all your passwords to a new, unique password they would be unable to access. Also, if you have additional devices, ensure that you remove all your data from them if they get passed along to someone else.

Being active online: If you are currently active and involved in a case, taking a break from social media may be a good idea. While you are online making new friends, uploading new pictures, and adding new posts, this creates new evidence that could be used against you in court.

Best Practices Moving Forward

Only add/accept people you know: It’s always nice to have more friends, even on the internet. But when you are going through a family law matter, that “friend” that you just accepted could be a private investigator or even your ex, who is using this fake account to gain access to all of your personal information during one of the most sensitive times of your life.

Remove your ex from your social media accounts: Along with removing them from all your social media accounts, you should also consider removing their family and friends.

No posting: While going through legal proceedings, it is best practice to avoid posting at all, and especially do not post when you are angry.

Tell your attorneys everything: The only way your attorney can properly assist you with your case is if you are candid about your social media history. It is a good idea to go through your social media so that you are aware of what you have posted throughout the years, so you and your attorney are aware of it before the other side is. Your attorney won’t know unless you tell them, and no family law attorney wants to be caught by surprise by the opposing attorney because you failed to divulge it to them ahead of time.

When in doubt, keep it to yourself: While it is best practice to refrain from posting on your accounts, it can also be helpful to refrain from posting or commenting on others. Even a comment on a photo can lead to negative implications. If you are unsure whether what you are about to put on the internet will impact your case, it is best to step away and not add to your presence.

While social media has been a great way to connect us and create an immense amount of enjoyment, it can also cause significant distress if not used appropriately in precarious times. A good rule of thumb is that if you would not want your ex’s attorney or a judge to see a post or a photo, do not post it! And even if you are questioning, it is a good idea not to post.

Remember, whatever is posted online is hardly ever wholly gone and could be used as evidence.

Related Readings