Use of Social Media in Family Court Disputes
There is no doubt that social media has taken over our lives. For good and for bad.
It all started with the relationship status more than 5 years ago and now our whole lives are exposed to the public – where you eat, what you eat, with who you go to the cinema, what music you like, when you are angry, upset, excited, what bugs you and of course, those impersonal rants that we have all seen on Facebook…
But where does this stop? And does it stop at all?
And what happens when things get legal?
Family courts have always turned to unconventional sources of information and lawyers are very creative in that matter – old pictures, interviews with classmates, neighbours and quotes that you don’t even remember.
Now, the time has come for social media to take part in court disputes as well.
Simply put, everything you publish online in the public space can be used for or against you in family courts.
If you have shared the information willingly and publicly (as is with social media) the family court has access to it and can use it.
In the last years, family courts have seen a huge spike of evidence originating from social media to support divorce, child support, spousal support and child custody cases.
Such evidence might be:
– status updates
– comments and likes
The thing about social media is that whatever you post online never really disappears and if your spouse has the means they can find long deleted pictures, comments and status updates that are actually deleted.
Social media is also very sensitive in terms of your friends. You don’t need to tag yourself at a workplace get together at a bar – your colleague tagged you and now the other parent can claim substance abuse issues.
Because of the publicity of social media, lately divorce and child custody cases have become much more aggressive and have had more evidence than in the past when private detectives used to do the job that now belongs to Facebook.
So what should you do?
It might sound like a severe measure but the best way to go during family disputes is actually deactivate your social media profiles on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest and Google+.
At the least you should revisit the following and make sure there is nothing incriminating that can be used against you in court:
– friends lists
– pictures you are tagged in
– check ins
– likes and followed pages
– privacy settings
Whatever the reason for going to family court, you should know that your social media accounts (even the ones you forgot about) could be used there.
Posts and images you find unimportant can be turned into incriminating evidence. Seek the advice of an experienced family lawyer who can identify the risky social media accounts and if there is anything you should worry about.
In addition, we think it’s a really good idea to Google search your name and find all accounts and profiles related to you to make sure everything is in order. If you don’t do it, your spouse’s lawyer sure will.
As a word of advice on social media we just want to remind you of the old proverb
Measure twice, cut once.
Think before posting. Your status update or rant might just be what defines the court’s decision.