Social media has become an integral part of our lives. Most of us use it to stay connected with friends and family, share news and information, and express ourselves. But social media can also be a source of problems, especially in divorce and child custody cases. If you ask most lawyers one of the largest mishaps that many clients make during their case is some kind of inappropriate social media posting that comes back to haunt them.
In recent years, there has been an increase in the number of divorce and custody cases that involve social media evidence. This is due in part to the fact that social media makes it easier for people to share information and communicate with each other. However, social media can also be used to spread false information, harass others, and violate court orders. Some people also underestimate how much privacy they have on their social media accounts or they incorrectly believe that it is a safe and appropriate place to vent, discuss things or share private, personal details that they should not want to be known to the court or the other party in their case.
Problems with social media in divorce and custody cases
There are a number of problems with social media that can arise in divorce and custody cases. These problems include:
- Spreading false information: Social media can be used to spread false information about a spouse or child. This can include making accusations of abuse, neglect, or infidelity. False information can damage the reputation of the person it is about and make it difficult for them to get custody of their children. Some false information is discovered because the person is tagged or associated with a post that allows the opposing party, their friends, or associates, to trace allegations or information.
- Harassing others: Social media can be used to harass and bully others. This can include sending threatening messages, posting embarrassing photos or videos, or making false accusations. Harassment can make it difficult for the person it is about to live their lives and can even lead to violence/fear of violence or other threats or harassment.
- Violating court orders: Social media can be used to violate court orders. This can include posting photos or videos of children in violation of a no-contact order or discussing the case on social media in violation of a gag order. Violating court orders can result in penalties, such as fines or jail time.
How to protect yourself from social media problems in divorce and custody cases
If you are going through a divorce or custody case, it is important to take steps to protect yourself from social media problems. These steps include:
- Be aware of the risks: The first step is to be aware of the risks of social media. Know that anything you post on social media can be used against you in court. The safest decision during a divorce case is often to simply not post at all and close down your accounts to being tagged, shared, posted, or otherwise accessed.
- Be careful what you post: Be careful about what you post on social media. Avoid posting anything that could be used to harm your case, such as negative comments about your spouse or child, photos you are tagged in, or even comments you make on other people’s accounts about a divisive topic.
- Set privacy settings: Make sure your social media accounts are set to private so that only your friends and family can see your posts. Review your list of “friends” and ensure that you have a tight circle of people you are sharing social media information with.
- Don't friend your ex: Don't friend your ex on social media. This will help to prevent them from seeing your posts and from contacting you through social media.
- Don't post about your case: this includes talking about the case, posting photos or videos of your children, discussing the case with others, or even making comments about occurrences such as “it was a good day today” on a day you had success in court.
- Talk to your lawyer: If you have any concerns about social media, talk to your lawyer. They can advise you on how to protect yourself from social media problems in your case.
Social media can be a valuable tool for staying connected with friends and family. However, it is important to be aware of the risks of social media and to take steps to protect yourself from social media problems in divorce and custody cases.
If you are going through a divorce or other family law matter and you need expert advice about navigating the process, including how to address your social media usage, call Pingel Family Law at (816) 208-8130 today for your consultation. Put our team’s knowledge and experience to work for you!