You may take pride in your social media savvy and popularity, whether it’s the number of friends or followers you have or your ability to inject just the right amount of snark in your posts. But how smart are you when it comes to using it during a divorce?
It’s becoming increasingly rare for social media websites like Facebook not to come into play during family law proceedings. Child custody hearings in particular have become a forum for incriminating posts and pictures. As a result, many lawyers strongly caution their clients to stay off Facebook entirely for the duration of their cases. But as anyone with a Facebook account knows, sometimes the addiction is just too strong, and people get themselves in trouble anyway.
Some people try to use Facebook to their advantage. A Pennsylvania-based attorney tells the story of a client who created a phony account in his child’s mother’s name, posting revealing photos of her in a bathing suit along with fake posts and status updates. But the plan backfired after he sent friend requests to her actual friends. The court admitted the account into evidence and he ended up suffering for his own ruse.
Other clients have made disparaging comments about their spouses and even the judge handling their case, only to have their attorney find out in court. When parties do this, it weakens their case, which is why lawyers are so adamant about keeping their clients off the site altogether.
If you can’t help yourself, at least adhere to one simple rule: Don’t post anything about your spouse, your children or your case. But sometimes even that’s not enough. In some cases, people will divulge information or share photos that conflict with statements made in court. Did you tell your Facebook friends about your new live-in partner or post pictures of the apartment you now share? Say goodbye to your alimony case.
Family law attorneys agree: No matter how much you want to vent online about your personal life, you’ll be much better off by just logging off.
Source: The Legal Intelligencer, “Facebook Has Become a Factor for Pa. Family Law Cases,” Ben Present, Jan. 31, 2012