Can Social Media Have a Negative Effect on Your Divorce?
Sharing our day-to-day lives on social media has become a natural, commonplace part of modern life. However, in an era where privacy regarding one’s personal life has become an anachronism, there are still good reasons to be prudent over what information you share on social media. If you’re in the midst of a divorce or custody dispute, consider the possible impact of your social media activity before posting to sites like Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter.
Social Media and Its Role in Causing Divorce
Social media can easily affect a couple’s communication, priorities, and commitment to their marriage. When one partner spends an excessive amount of time on social media, it may come at the cost of their relationship. Social media has also been known to blur the boundaries between your public life and your private life, driving a gap between couples with significantly different privacy preferences.
If one party is prone to a wandering eye, there is no question that social media makes that easier. At no other point in history has it been so easy to find out exactly what your high school boyfriend or girlfriend is doing, what they look like, and where they live—and rekindling that flame is only a message away. A marriage that may have hung on by a thread before social media is unlikely to survive in this day and age.
Digital Evidence Used in Divorce
Once a couple decides to divorce, social media can provide a plethora of evidence on both sides. Kentucky does not have fault-based divorce, so proving infidelity does not have a clear effect on the division of assets or spousal support. That doesn’t mean that social media won’t affect the divorce, though. A partner who can easily see evidence of their partner’s infidelity online is likely to feel scorned, spiteful, and ready for revenge. This can make it harder to negotiate a fair division of assets, make decisions based on the best interests of the children, and otherwise get through this period with as little stress as possible.
Without realizing it, you may be posting information and photographs to a public site that could serve as fodder for the other side in a divorce or custody dispute. If your former spouse or co-parent has access to your social media accounts, they may be able to use photos and posts as evidence in courtroom disputes. You might think that everything you post is harmless, but be sure to look at your accounts from the same perspective as would your ex or an opposing family law attorney or investigator.
Posting photos from a swanky hotel room while on a recent vacation? This could be used to show that you have more disposable income than you’d previously claimed, resulting in an increase or reduction in alimony payments, depending on whether you’re the payor or recipient. Is your wall loaded with photos from nights out at the club, getting up close and personal with strangers, and doing shots? These could be used to portray a reckless, unreliable parental figure who is not equipped to hold primary custody of your children.
These photos may have a perfectly reasonable explanation. Perhaps you got a huge discount on the hotel room, or perhaps the photos posted of you were from many years ago. However, once this information ends up before a judge, you’re going to have an uphill climb to prove that they aren’t relevant to the case at hand.
Once your ex has seen these sorts of posts, it’s too late (and could even be a violation of court rules governing evidence) to delete them from your account. A good rule of thumb for anyone, but especially someone going through a custody dispute or divorce, is to make all social media accounts private.
That said, even when your accounts are concealed from the general public, they may not be as private as you think. Over the years, we add people as friends or followers whom we may not really know, or who may have a strong allegiance to your former spouse or co-parent. Those people are free to pass along screen captures of your social media accounts to your former spouse to use in court. Additionally, investigators working for the other side are prone to posing as a stranger and getting adding as a friend in order to try and learn more about you. Never add anyone as a friend whom you don’t recognize.
Most importantly, keep your posts to social media to a minimum during a divorce. Even if you feel tempted to brag about what a great life you’re living now that you’re rid of your ex, resist the urge to post about your lavish lifestyle or frequent nights on the town. Most importantly, do not under any circumstances talk about your court case publicly. Keep that information between yourself and your attorney.
If you are in need of an experienced family law attorney for your Kentucky divorce, contact the Louisville-based family law attorney John Ruby for a consultation at 502-895-2626.