Social Media Use During a Divorce
In a divorce, social media activity can be used as evidence which may affect alimony, property division and child custody. Accordingly, anyone involved in these family law proceedings should be cautioned about use of social media. As many people know, once something is posted online, it can never truly be deleted. Social media posts are being used more and more in courtrooms during divorce proceedings.
In a divorce, a post on social media may be used to undermine a party’s truthfulness or to demonstrate that one party was having an affair prior to the date of separation. With regard to property division, evidence from social media could show that a party is hiding either marital or separate assets. Sometimes, even if the social media cannot be directly used to show concealment of assets, it can provide a basis for more thorough discovery.
In a custody dispute, social media posts can be used against a party to show that the party is not fit to have custody of the child. One of the factors that Pennsylvania Courts look at when determining whether a parent should receive custody is a history of drug or alcohol abuse. If a social media post were to reference irresponsible activities such as drug use, this evidence can be used against the party. Some other factors include willingness of the parties to cooperate with one another and whether the parent would encourage continuing contact between the child and the other parent. Disparaging posts by one parent against the other parent on social media can be used to infer an unwillingness to cooperate and a tendency to alienate.
Additionally, in support matters, social media posts alluding to recent vacations, expensive purchases, or even job promotions can undermine that party’s argument that he or she cannot afford support payments.
It is a good idea not to post on social media regarding the other party, vacationing, partying, spending, or anything of the like when you are involved in a divorce, support, or custody proceeding. Even an innocent post may be twisted and used against you. Use common sense if you do post to social media during legal proceedings, knowing that your posts may appear in the courtroom.