Texting, posting and tweeting seem like safe and innocent activity to most people – just a chance to put out to a few people spontaneous activity or thoughts. But this mistaken impression of social media puts people in jeopardy when facing a divorce.
When you text another person, you probably think of it as a conversation – private and disappearing with the wind. However, a text is a vital piece of recorded evidence that does not just disappear. Depending upon the carrier, your texts could be archived. Depending upon the person you send it to, it could be copied as a screenshot or saved in a software program.
With posting, you should have a sense that it stays out there on Facebook or Instagram. But you probably think little of who will see it. This can be a terrible mistake – if your privacy settings leave a post as public, it will be captured by Google and become part of the Internet forever. Even with narrower privacy settings, reposts and sharing could result in an image becoming part of the public Internet.
What could be the damage done in a divorce through social media?
At the risk of repeating ourselves, any social media act becomes potential evidence in your case. If it makes you look bad in any way, it will be used by your spouse’s attorney for that precise purpose. Sharing a photo of you in Cancun while you are claiming you cannot pay child support or spousal support will destroy your argument. A picture of you and your child could appear to paint you in a negative light as a parent. Many people use social media to vent their frustrations. We regularly see individuals who say terrible things about their spouse, the judge hearing their case, or the guardian ad litem appointed to make a custody evaluation. All of these words can come back to haunt you and cause you to lose your case.
So, we maintain that a person should essentially go dark on social media during a divorce because it serves as a shield against any impulsive behavior.
If you feel you have to engage in some social media, and of course we all text and email, do not send or post anything until after you reread what you wrote and ask yourself, would I want the judge in my case to see this? If the answer is no, do not send it. Any communication with your spouse or children should be calibrated to this type of thinking.
Social media actions have consequences. Just ask Anthony Weiner.
If you have questions about social media and divorce, contact us – we can help.