Social Media Evidence and Divorce: A Recipe for Disaster?
Social media occupies a part of our lives like no other media platform has done before. Just try looking to your personal network of family and friends and see how many people aren’t on Facebook or Instagram. Chances are, you can count those people with one hand.
Bottom line? Social media is unavoidable. Unsurprisingly, it also permeates the legal world, particularly when divorce is concerned. In these cases, many divorcing spouses have a number of common questions about evidence about their partner’s behavior and habits on social media. Does the court recognize online evidence showing infidelity? Does it matter if the evidence is public or private?When can Social Media Evidence be Used in a Divorce?
Many married men and women assume that just because they’ve changed the privacy settings on their social media accounts, anything they say on their profiles or messages is privileged or private information. This is far from the truth. If you post something on social media that people can see, this information can be discovered by your spouse. If one of your spouse’s friends who can see their social media content shares this with you, you can use it as evidence during the divorce proceedings.
In other words, your privacy settings can’t be used as an excuse to make your social media activities inadmissible in court.
The catch, however, is whether the social media evidence was obtained illegally or through deceitful methods. For example, neither spouses nor their attorneys can use fake social media profiles to friend their partners and use their posts against them in court. Likewise, your spouse cannot hack into your social media accounts and use any discovered information as evidence. The “hacking,” which is an illegal act, makes any evidence found inadmissible.Types of Divorce Evidence Found on Social Media
The social media content of both spouses can be used as evidence to prove almost anything:
- Neglect of the spouse’s responsibilities as a parent (For example, leaving the children at home and posting pictures while with friends at the bar).
- Lying about not having the money to pay child support (For example, posting photos of a new car after not paying child support).
- Cheating (For example, posting photos with a mistress while on vacation).
- A history of abuse (For example, ranting on Facebook and Twitter).
While social media has been known to cause problems in marriages, there are some who argue that social media itself doesn’t increase the likelihood of a divorce. Rather, it exacerbates existing issues in the relationship, such as distrust, infidelity, abuse, and jealousy.
If you are in the middle of a divorce that involves social media and want to know how to have a smooth separation, talk to the legal team of the Lyttle Law Firm. Call our offices today at 512-215-5225, or use our contact form to schedule an appointment with Austin family law attorney Daniella Lyttle.