Social media has quickly become one of the primary methods people use for communication.
People use social media to post opinions, update their location, inform people about a new love or job, or message someone. While these actions may seem inconsequential, social media does play a role if you’re involved in any lawsuit, including a divorce.
Perhaps you’re considering a divorce and find yourself wondering, Can social media be used in a divorce case? Below, the experienced divorce litigators at The Larson Law Office describe when and how social media can be used against you in a divorce.
Can Social Media Be Used in a Divorce Case?
In 2010, the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers surveyed its members, all of whom are divorce attorneys. Of those surveyed, 81% said they observed social media used in divorce cases. Since social media use has significantly increased since 2010, it’s likely that social media use in divorce cases has also increased considerably.
Evidence that is relevant to your case can be used in court. Relevant evidence includes documents, emails, and social media posts that tend to make a fact in the case more or less likely. Everything you post on social media that affects your claims or defenses, or your spouse’s claims or defenses, could be relevant to your divorce.
Your spouse or their attorney must obtain evidence through legal means. They can’t hack your account or pose as a fake friend. However, there are many legal ways to acquire social media-based evidence in a case.
Public or Accessible Social Media
If your spouse has the login information to your accounts or is friends with you on social media, you must assume they’ll show any relevant posts you make to their attorney. Even if you are not friends with them or have blocked them, you’re not necessarily safe. If you posted something publicly or are friends with any of your spouse’s friends or relatives, you are safer if you assume your spouse has access to those posts.
Discovery of Applicable Communications
Let’s say your spouse can’t see your social media, and you haven’t communicated with your spouse on a social media platform. Or perhaps your page is private, and you’re not friends with any of your spouse’s friends or relatives. Does this mean that your posts and communications are secure? Unfortunately, the answer is no.
During a divorce, both parties exchange information in the discovery process. In discovery, both sides can ask for documents that are in any way relevant to the case. A common request during discovery is for “any communications” relevant to the specific issues in the case. This includes direct messages on social media and all of your posts.
Let’s say your spouse files for divorce, claiming you committed adultery. If you privately message significant others, post pictures with a love interest, or are on a dating website, you might have to turn this information over to your spouse’s lawyer.
A capable family attorney can sift through the different discovery requests and fight against improper requests. Plus, if you do have to turn over some posts, they can strategize how to handle them in the least harmful way.
How Social Media Can Be Used Against You in a Divorce
You or your spouse can use social media in your divorce to support your claims and defenses.
You must state a legal reason or grounds for divorce under Texas law. Social media could be relevant to the alleged grounds. For example, your spouse claims they want a divorce because of your physical or mental cruelty. Any angry rants you post about them could be relevant to this ground for divorce. Loving posts about your spouse, however, might help your defense.
Your seemingly innocent social media posts could impact your financial claims. For example, suppose you are seeking spousal support. However, you post pictures of expensive and lavish purchases. Your spouse may use this to question whether you need spousal support.
Posts demonstrating your state of mind could impact a custody dispute. Your spouse may use your angry posts about your children or pictures of you partying to establish that you are not a fit parent.
Do Not Delete Anything
You may think that you can simply delete negative posts. Do not delete anything. Tampering with or destroying evidence can have significant consequences. If you are concerned about your social media posts, discuss your concerns with your attorney. They can help you strategize how to best address questionable posts, and they can advise you on whether the information you’re concerned with is relevant to your divorce.
An Experienced Divorce Attorney Can Help Protect You
Social media can have a significant impact on your divorce. You need an effective litigator, like those at The Larson Law Office, who can shield you from the ramifications of your social media posts. We fight to protect your best interests, so don’t hesitate. Contact us today.