Social Media During Your Divorce: Restraint is Key
Once you put something on the Internet, it’s there forever. And going through a divorce can be so difficult. It can be a challenge to hold back from discussing the hurt and anger you’re experiencing in a public forum, or from trying to make a former partner jealous with news from your exciting new life without them. Read on to learn more about ways to avoid letting social media negatively affect your Florida divorce. For more personalized advice regarding your divorce, call Crystal Collins Spencer Attorney at Law at 850-912-8080.
Social Media Evidence
Social media is essentially a treasure trove of evidence for a spouse going through a divorce. Courtrooms have seen every major social media outlet—Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Tiktok, and more—used as evidence in divorce cases.
Imagine, for example, someone who is unfaithful in their marriage. This causes their spouse to leave them. If their spouse sees social media postings from their ex or the ex’s affair partner, they could use that in court. Florida is a no-fault divorce state and affairs generally don’t have an impact on divorce proceedings. However, that isn’t the case if the married affair partner uses marital assets to fund the affair. Social media could uncover these spending sprees and help the wronged spouse recoup their losses.
Social media is also an excellent tool for uncovering hidden assets. People with money often want to show it off—they want the validation of those social media likes. If a couple is going through a divorce and one partner is constantly posting new luxury purchases on social media, that’s a red flag for the other partner. If those purchases are funded by marital or hidden assets, the spouse may be entitled to some of that money.
Communication Between Spouses
Digital technology has also changed how spouses and ex-spouses communicate. Most types of social media leave some sort of digital paper trail, allowing conversations and arguments to be used as evidence in court. Consider how text messages containing threats, verbal abuse, or apologies for past abusive behavior could be used in court.
Text messages and emails discussing child custody, child support, and the division of assets can also be very useful in court. If the parties agree to one thing in writing and then insist that such an agreement was never made, text messages and emails can be used to determine what actually happened.
Whenever you send anything to your ex-partner—a voice message, text message, Snapchat, or email—take a second before hitting the send button. Make sure it’s something you actually want to put out there and think about if you’d be comfortable hearing it read aloud in court.
Complications With Child Custody
Perhaps one of the biggest ways that social media has changed divorce is its effect on child custody disputes. Social media has been used time and time again to disprove one party’s ability to parent.
Imagine a parent who is demanding more time with their child and claiming that the other party is withholding the child from them. The other parent has text messages showing that they asked about pickup times, only to be ignored. On top of that, they have copies of social media posts showing that the other parent went out drinking, hanging out with friends, or doing anything other than spending time with their children during their allotted time. If the court sees that a parent isn’t using the time already given to them, they are unlikely to give them more.
The court may also look at social media evidence that suggests a child is being mistreated. Photos or videos of a child being around or directly engaged in risky behavior could lead to a major change in custody. One parent making public disparaging remarks about the other parent could also affect custody proceedings.
Here are some tips:
- Present yourself as the responsible adult that you are: When going through a breakup, there is always a temptation to appear to the outside world as though you’re having a great time being single—out every night, partying with friends, and perhaps getting a little wild. This may be an exaggeration of what is actually a fairly sedate life, but it won’t appear so to the outside world. Painting yourself as an irresponsible partier could serve as fodder for a co-parent’s argument that you can’t be trusted with custody of your children.
- Remember the wide array of people who can see what you post: It’s smart to make your Facebook page or Instagram account private when you file for divorce. However, this doesn’t mean that your remaining friends or followers won’t share photos or information they see with your ex. You can also delete friends and block followers who were close to your former spouse, but loyalties may shift and change without you realizing it, and information you wish to stay private might not remain so for long.
- Displays of wealth or luxury could hurt your case: Social media can lead people to post lavish pictures and updates in order to impress their friends—photos of new cars or an exotic vacation. However, these sorts of displays will certainly not impress a judge if you’re attempting to argue that you are entitled to more money in spousal support payments, or can’t afford an increase in your child support payment.
- Don’t add people as friends whom you don’t know personally: If you do make your accounts private, be sure to add only people you know as friends. Private investigators can send you a friend request in order to gain access to photos and posts only your friends can see, and can download and use this information against you in court. You do not have a right to privacy of information you post online and share with someone you’ve added as a friend.
For compassionate, determined, and detail-oriented legal assistance with a divorce or custody-sharing agreement in Florida, contact the Pensacola family law attorney Crystal Collins Spencer for a consultation on your case, at 850-912-8080 (Pensacola), 850-424-6683 (Sandestin), or 850-200-4652 (Fort Walton Beach).