Social scientists surveyed law firm caseloads and found that Facebook was widely used to establish proof of marital misconduct.
The comments from one attorney prove enlightening:
“Social media provides an ongoing log of our lives. The sharing of written posts and pictures, often with geo-tagging, provides a record of activities that can be used in a court case.
“Often, if a partner refers to an impending bonus, a new job offer, or plans for a holiday, it may provide evidence that they are not telling the truth about their financial position. At the very least, it could call their credibility into question.
“It’s like having a massive public noticeboard.
“Somebody said she was not in a relationship with anybody new but then posted a message inviting everybody to a housewarming party for her and her boyfriend.”
These comments reveal the great danger of using social media as some form of online diary of daily life. By telling others in your network of friends about aspects of your personal life, you run the risk of disclosing damning information or, in the event of boasting, creating credibility problems.
Why do people continue to “overshare” on social media? Principally, because many people still believe only a tiny number of people can see these posts, unaware that weakening privacy settings make these posts more and more generally available. Even for those with strong privacy settings, it takes only one friend to tell someone else to begin the cycle of “telephone” that gets the word back to the estranged spouse. Also, unlike a private diary that would not be subject to discovery, social media posts have a public disclosure component that make them statements relevant to a divorce so long as they touch on matters a court must resolve – or even just credibility. The key is that a social media post is never really private because it is posted to a circle of other individuals. And unlike a dinner party or a conversation at a baseball game, the post is a written record that need not require the group members to testify to its contents and its authenticity.
In a divorce, or any family law matter, perhaps the greatest part of the process an individual may control is the availability of damning social media evidence. The less you post, the less the other spouse or parent can discover potentially damaging statements.
If you have questions about Facebook and divorce, contact us – we can help.