Use of Social Media While Going Through a Divorce
Can Social Media Posts Be Used Against You in a Divorce?
If you are going through a divorce, what you say online can and will be used against you. You may be innocently posting comments, photos, statuses, tweets, etc., on social media such as Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram, with the intent to share only with people close to you, but sometimes even the smallest detail can affect your divorce claim and blow your chances for the best possible settlement.
The experienced and compassionate Illinois divorce attorneys at Wolfe & Stec, Ltd. understand what you are going through and know that divorce is difficult. We can provide professional guidance to examine your situation and provide specific strategies to make sure you do not make mistakes such as posting information on social media. We strive to protect you and your children before, during and after the divorce process, and we offer a free consultation to discuss your options.
Why Social Media Is a Problem
Members of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers estimate that 81 percent of them have used or encountered social media sites as evidence during divorce proceedings for information such as new purchases, new investments, extravagant trips and other financial situations. You may think that since you and your spouse are not “friends” or your profile is “private,” your spouse will not have access to this information, but this is not true. Even if your spouse cannot access your information directly, someone you may think of as a friend or a friend’s friend might slip and share this information.
In a divorce, both parties petition the courts to ask for what they want as far as dividing property, spousal support, and child custody or visitation arrangements. If the parties do not agree on how to divide the assets and arrange support and custody issues, the courts will decide on what is equitable based on information both spouses are required to provide. This includes a complete disclosure of their finances — incomes, assets, and debts.
In order to get the best settlement possible, divorcing spouses and their attorneys will search for any evidence that even hints that the opposite party is not telling the truth and not deserving of the financial settlement or custody arrangement they are requesting. Social media can be a plentiful source of information about you, such as whether you are hiding assets and how you are dealing with the children. This information can be used as evidence in your divorce case and impact your ultimate settlement. For example, if you say that you are out of money, but tell your Facebook friends that you cashed out stock your spouse was not aware of and bought a Mercedes with the money, it is not going to help your case.
Issues With Spouses and Children
Social media communications can be tracked, traced, and kept in records for later use, so if you keep mentioning your spouse negatively on social media, it could lead to possible stalking or harassment charges.
If you are asking for more parenting time with your kids, but you post photos of you at a beach or a bar at a time you are supposed to be with them, your spouse can find this out quickly. If you want primary custody of your children, do not use social media to complain about parenting responsibilities and care, brag about your kids-free vacation, rant about their misbehavior, or show them involved in dangerous activities.
And be aware that children under 13 are not allowed to have Facebook and other social media profiles, so if you allow them to post on these sites, it can be evidence that you have failed to properly supervise them.
What You Can Do to Avoid Problems
- Temporarily suspend your social media accounts – it is best if no one can access anything about you on social media while you are in the midst of the divorce process.
- If you cannot bring yourself to get off social media completely, make sure that your online profile settings are marked private, but do not assume that this will keep everything private.
- Do not accept any new friend requests.
- Ask your social media friends not to post anything about you until your divorce is resolved.
- Do not upload any pictures, videos or posts that can be used against you.
- Search for your name online, and show your attorney anything that may affect your case.
- Keep your private life as private as possible during and even after the divorce proceedings.
- Remember that posting anything during divorce proceedings may unnecessarily complicate your impending divorce, cost you money, and make your life all the more difficult.
Get Help – Contact Us For a Free Consultation
Since divorce is so complex and emotionally sensitive, it is most important to have an experienced divorce attorney on your side who has your best interests at heart. The skilled Illinois family-law attorneys at Wolfe & Stec, Ltd. have helped countless families dealing with divorce. We will fight to protect your spousal rights and personal assets and guide you through each step of the pre-planning, divorce and post-divorce period, including dealing with social media.
For a free initial consultation with an experienced and compassionate DuPage County divorce lawyer, contact us online or call 630-305-0222.