Nowadays most individuals are active on at least one social media site. A November 2016 study by the Pew Research Center indicates that approximately 68% of all adults use Facebook. When going through a divorce, the social media account of either party can play a major role. Serving as what appears to be an online journal for many people, parties to a divorce should be conscious of what they are placing on their social media during a divorce.
First, while going through a stressful event such as a divorce, eliminating social media all together may be beneficial. Being active on social media may make it more difficult to keep your distance from your former spouse and therefore may increase the stresses felt. However, for many reasons, individuals choose not to disconnect from their social media account. If an individual chooses this option, they should be aware of the consequences their social media activity can lead to.
One of the most important parts to any divorce proceeding is making a full and complete financial disclosure. A user’s activity on social media can often conflict with the information they are sharing with their former spouse. For instance, an individual posting a picture of an expensive item that they purchased, or tagging themselves at an expensive restaurant can raise many questions during the proceeding. While the postings are not conclusive evidence the other party is not fully disclosing financials, these posts can often affect the trust between the parties and make negotiations more difficult. Other than financial implications, social media can also provide parties with information used in negotiations such as who their former spouse is associating with, how often they are out of the house, and how they are behaving during the process. This information can be valuable during child custody proceedings.
One of the key points surrounding social media accounts is the ease of discovery. Several courts have held that social media is discoverable because (1) it does not violate privacy because there is no expectation of privacy, (2) it can be very relevant, and (3) it does not violate any privilege. Usually a detailed request of certain activities from one party towards the other can get the information into evidence. Courts have found broad social media requests to be invalid.
Individuals that are involved in a divorce proceeding should be mindful of several things. First, they should monitor the information that they are posting. Seemingly innocent posts or photos could reveal much more than initially thought, so it is important to review carefully. Also, airing “dirty laundry” is strongly recommended against. Furthermore, an individual should be aware of what others are posting on their social media accounts. Because an individual does not have control over who others are friends with, a picture of them on a friends account may be shared with many other people that you do not know. Lastly, while it is not easily done, refraining from using social media may be the healthiest option for an individual going through a divorce.
An attorney specializing in family law matters is your best resource when dealing with family-related issues and will help you to better understand your case. The team of experienced New York divorce lawyers at Larry McCord and Associates, LLC assists clients in all aspects of contested and uncontested divorce. Please contact Larry McCord and Associates, LLC at (631) 643-3084 to learn more about our services and approach to family law.