In today’s day and age, it has become quite rare for social media to not factor into divorce proceedings and child custody disputes. In fact, it is one of the important things that we’ll discuss at your initial consultation with our Greenville, South Carolina family law attorneys. Not only will you need to change your passwords and make sure that your profiles and posts are set to private or ‘friends only,’ but you’ll also have to think about all of the people who are on your friends list, whether they are also friends of your ex-spouse, and whether anything that you’ve posted could be used against you. At the same time, you might be wise to investigate your ex-spouse’s social media accounts and get screen shots of anything that might be necessary to prove certain points in your case. While doing so, be aware that they are likely going to do the same thing and make the appropriate changes to your account.
Social Media Accounts Can Provide Evidence of Inadequate Parenting Ability
One of the biggest issues in most Greenville, South Carolina divorce cases is the subject of child custody and visitation. This is often the most emotional of issues, and social media can absolutely be used to provide evidence that one parent is better or worse than the other. If one parent appears to always have the children, for example, as indicated by their social media accounts, then this could indicate that the other parent is not as present as they should be. If one parent’s social media account is filled with evidence that they live a ‘party lifestyle,’ then this too could indicate that they are the less capable parent. In many cases, people use social media to vent their frustrations, share their political and religious views, and discuss how they feel about absolutely everything. All of this could benefit or harm your case when it comes to Greenville, South Carolina, family law concerns.
Social Media Accounts Can Provide Evidence of Income that Hasn’t Been Reported
Another frequent issue that involves social media accounts is the issue of sharing too much about your income, your vacations, your big purchases, etc. If you complete your Financial Declaration, which is required in a divorce, in such a way that indicates that you are low income, but your social media accounts appear to be those of someone with a much higher income, then this could harm you. At the same time, if your ex-spouse is lying about their income, then you may find evidence of this on their social media accounts and would be wise to take screen shots before he or she has a chance to remove these potentially incriminating posts. Further, anything on your social media account that seems to deviate from what you have reported can call your credibility into question throughout the divorce.
Social Media Accounts Can Provide Evidence of Cheating or Adultery Within the Marriage
In the past, a spouse who was cheated on would need a private investigator to prove it. This is still an option, of course, but you may not need it. Social media has become an excellent source of evidence of such affairs and adulterous behaviors within a marriage. It is important to avoid getting into a relationship – or at least to avoid creating any evidence of a new relationships – until your divorce is final. Even though the new relationship may have started after your official separation, it can be easy to argue that you were actually cheating the whole time.
Social Media Accounts Are Rarely as Private and Personal as You Think They Are
While you might have your social media accounts set to ‘friends only’ or ‘private,’ that doesn’t mean that everything you share and post is as private and personal as you might imagine. For one thing, even if you have blocked your ex-spouse so that they can’t see any of your posts, there’s a good chance that at least one of your friends is also friends with your ex, and will allow them to see what they want from their account. Further, it is entirely possible for your accounts to be subpoenaed if they are believed to be relevant to the divorce case, such as if they could prove adultery.
You Need to Be Aware of the Impact of Past, Present, and Future Social Media Posts
With this information, you may be tempted to jump on your phone or computer and start deleting all of your past posts. Unfortunately, doing so could cause more harm than good. This is because of the legal doctrine of ‘spoliation,’ which indicates that if you are in possession of evidence that could be used to prove something against you, and if you get rid of that evidence, then the court is allowed to infer that the given evidence did, in fact, prove something against you. You will have to make the decision yourself as to whether or not the given information that you are considering getting rid of by deleting posts will be more or less harmful than what will happen if you are found to have deleted it.
You have far more control over the posts that you share in the present and future. You can choose not to post at all or to only post positive things and things that make you look like a better person and a better parent. Avoid posting anything that is related to partying, drug use, other relationships, etc. Don’t post about your purchases, your vacations, or your employment. Think about everything before you post, including what each post might look like from the perspective of a judge.
You Need to Be Aware of the Impact of Social Media Posts Made By Your Children
One thing that never even occurs to those who are going through a divorce and facing child custody issues is that their children’s social media posts could be relevant, too. If your children are at an age where they have their own social media accounts and are allowed to do so, they may post just as much as anyone else about their lives and feelings. In fact, they most post more than the average adult, with less inhibitions and less positive judgment in terms of what they share. The best thing that you can do in such a situation is to teach your children about how to use social media appropriately and how to avoid over-sharing about their lives and feelings in public posts. If they are struggling with emotions and the challenges of your divorce, consider getting them into therapy to have a healthy outlet.
Contact Greenville Family Law For More Advice About Your Family Law Concerns
If you have questions about your divorce, child custody concerns, or how social media may be used to help or harm you, contact a skilled Greenville, SC divorce law attorney at Robert Clark at Greenville Family Law for legal advice.