- Laura L. Van Tassel, Esq.
4 Reasons To Stop Posting On Social Media During Your Divorce.
Covid-19 induced self-isolation and limited in-person has created a rise in the number of people turning to social media as their primary means of connecting with friends, family, and business. For both personal and professional purposes, many of us post messages and updates on our pages without really considering the larger implications. For this reason, social media is a very hot topic in family law right now, as many people who are getting divorced recklessly put their life out there in cyberspace.
In my experience, social media evidence is being used more and more in family courts visitation and child custody cases. I've had clients who believe they have "locked down" their privacy settings. While the effort is admirable, I tell them “it's not fail-proof”. Social media sites such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat and TikTok, LinkedIn, and YouTube are public enterprises. Online social media sites are constantly upgrading and updating their privacy settings, sometimes making it easier for anyone" to access your information. Your social media posts are not safe from discovery simply because you make them private. Anything you post to a social media account, regardless of your privacy settings, becomes a part of public record and your posts can become evidence and influence the outcome of many aspects of your divorce or family law matter.
Here in New Jersey, we became a no-fault divorce state in 2007. Meaning couples can cite irreconcilable differences without having to be specific, so it’s not necessary to unearth evidence of your soon-to-be-ex’s wrongdoing in order to go your separate ways.
That said, many New Jersey divorce lawyers are internet-savvy, and they will search your social media to try to obtain evidence in your case. Sometimes such evidence can prove useful. Most courts will allow social media posts as evidence allowed in court so long as it is relevant and authentic and wasn’t obtained unlawfully. If there is good reason to believe private social media content will be relevant and not obtainable in another way, courts will sometimes even issue a subpoena for the production of it.
Evidence obtained from your social media can impact your divorce case in several ways. If you say or share anything that contradicts your position, it can be used against you in court. Below is a look at some of 4 reasons to socially distance yourself from social media during divorce in New Jersey.
1) Financial Posts:
If your spouse feels they deserve to get more than you, they can use your social media posts to prove that you are hiding assets even if you are not. Comments about, or references to new job opportunities, can be used as evidence that a person is, or soon will be, making more money than he or she claimed. Even a post about an innocent trip to a shopping mall that sells expensive things can be used against you. Did your lover post an image about just receiving an expensive gift from you? The court could consider this type of gift to constitute the dissipation of marital assets.
2) Party Posts:
If you are a parent, a social media photo or video of you partying can be used by the other parent to claim that you are reckless and do not deserve to have custody of your child. Even a picture or video that you posted for purposes of humor can be used against you and could have significant repercussions on alimony payments or child support.
3) Personal Life Posts:
Posting about all those images of fun dates in your new relationship could cast doubt on a parent’s willingness to focus on his or her children or could inspire a soon-to-be former spouse to cease all attempts at negotiation.
4) Negative Comments In A Post:
Even those who know better, often find themselves unable to resist the temptation of posting negative comments about a former partner online. Any aggressive or negative language can, however, be used against a person during divorce, as judges pay close attention to how divorcing parties treat each other, especially if they share children.
So how can you protect yourself?
The answer is simple. When it comes to social media use and divorce, it’s usually better to be safe than sorry and avoid posting anything until the divorce is finalized.
These are just four examples, but if you post any material that is questionable, then rest assured your ex-spouse will retrieve and try to use it against you. Why waste more money on legal fees to contest social media evidence?
If you have some concerns, discuss them with your lawyer. If don’t have a lawyer and are considering a New Jersey divorce, contact me at Van Tassel Law by calling (201) 664-8566