Social media and digital communication are part of our lives whether we like it or not. It all started with the relationship status 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.
Even if you are not on social media you will still be using digital communication. Digital communication is the use of messaging platforms either from your phone or an application.
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, neighbors and quotes that you don’t even remember.
We recently acted in a matter where we used the husband’s social media posts to demonstrate that he was living a lifestyle beyond the $150.00 per week he stated he was earning from his company.
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.
You also need to remember that other platforms are not private either, such as messenger and whatsapp. These can be subpoenaed along with any messages sent via your phone.
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.
Think before posting. Your status update or rant might just be what defines the court’s decision.