Social media is becoming an increasingly popular component of divorce cases across the globe. Posts to Facebook and Twitter profiles are not only leading to divorce, but are also being submitted as evidence during litigation. Matrimonial and family law attorneys strongly advise that divorce participants carefully monitor what they post throughout the duration of their case.
Social Media’s Link to Divorce
A recent survey from British attorneys Slater and Gordon reports that 1 in 4 Britons have considered filing for divorce based on their spouse’s activity on Twitter, Facebook, Skype, or SnapChat accounts. Such activity ranges from interactions with former flames, to a lack of posts that include their significant others.
Of those surveyed, a whopping 50% admitted to checking their partner’s social media profiles behind their backs, with about 15% stating they considered filing for divorce based on their findings. In a separate study conducted by the American Association of Matrimonial Lawyers (AAML), over 80% of attorneys have seen an increase in the amount of social media evidence presented during divorce proceedings. These numbers are a direct result of the prominent role social media plays in our everyday lives.
Social Media is Changing the Legal Landscape
Given our societal need to share every aspect of our lives with friends, family, and followers, it comes as no surprise that social media profiles and posts are playing an ever prominent role in the discovery process. Some parties will try to hide assets from their ex-spouse during divorce, however, they will post photos or statuses boasting about expensive purchases, such as a new car or lavish vacation. These posts will act as evidence, proving that a party is lying about his or her assets or net worth.
An extreme example of the effect of social media on divorce can be found in one of Brian D. Perskin & Associates P.C.’s recent court cases. In this particular matter, feuding spouses were involved in a highly contested divorce that involved children and a great deal of assets. The defendant, a small business owner, claimed that he was not involved in the opening or operation of a new location of his company. The firm’s client, the plaintiff, was facing the very real possibility that she and her children would not receive a fair and accurate amount of alimony and support. After diligent research, Brian and his team found Facebook, Yelp, and Twitter posts that proved the defendant was actively involved and benefiting from his company’s new location. Without this crucial social media evidence, it would have been nearly impossible to prove to the court that the defendant was trying to hide assets.
The Golden Rules
Digital communication makes our day-to-day lives easier, but it also has its pitfalls. In order to protect yourself during divorce, there are certain rules you should follow:
1. Change your passwords and privacy settings. It is important to change all of your passwords if you are worried about you ex logging in and checking your messages. Increased security settings will help to maintain your privacy during divorce.
2. Don’t trash talk you ex. Speaking negatively about your former spouse can add fuel to the fire and create additional hurdles and stress to overcome during your action. Take the high road and remain civil, or simply do not discuss your case on social media.
3. Be mindful of the photos you post. Do not post photos of yourself partying, drinking, or doing drugs. Such evidence may lead you to lose custody of your children because you will appear reckless and unable to provide adequate care.
4. Do not cyberstalk your ex or their friends and family members. Obsessing over your former flame is unhealthy. Resist the urge to check up on them by unfollowing your ex and their friends or family members. You’ll be much happier.
5. Remember that everything on the internet is permanent. Apps like SnapChat promise to delete all content after it is viewed, but receivers still have the ability to take a screen cap and save an image. The same can be done on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Once released into the ether, social media content is permanently out there.
6. Use common sense. Using common sense is a surefire method to ensure that your social media activity cannot be used against you in a divorce or child custody proceeding. Do you have to think twice before posting a status update or photo? Is there a little voice telling you not to? Listen to it. Be safe, and trust your instincts.
7. Delete or deactivate accounts. If you think that you will be unable to play it safe on social media, then you should consider deleting or deactivating your accounts for the duration of your action. It’s better to go without Facebook for a few months than have your activity come back to haunt you before you’ve reached a settlement.
New York City Divorce Experts
There is only so much a plaintiff or defendant can do on their own during a divorce or child custody proceeding. The expert attorneys at Brian D. Perskin & Associates P.C. specialize in contested and hard-to-handle cases. The lawyers dedicate their time to providing topnotch representation, from the initial filing of paperwork, to prolonged discovery production periods, and straight through to litigation and settlement. Contact Brian and his staff to schedule a free and confidential consultation today!