Did you know your tweets, status updates, and other social media posts can be used as evidence in family law cases? It’s true. Even if your posts are restricted to family and friends, they could still be admissible in court. Public posts, or those shared by mutual friends, are easily obtained as evidence.
There are some limits. If you or your ex created a fake account in order to falsely “friend” the other and see their social media posts, a court might find this to be an invasion of your privacy and will not allow the evidence to be used at your trial. Likewise, accessing someone else’s account without their permission could put social media evidence in jeopardy and could cause other legal issues for you. For the most part, however, social media posts are fair game for the other side to use against you.
What could social media evidence be used for? Almost anything
For example, it is relatively common for one party to use social media posts and messages as evidence that the other party has been committing adultery. In North Carolina, evidence that you were cheating during the marriage could be used to keep you from getting alimony.
Another example is to prove issues related to finances. Suppose you had taken a position that you simply do not have any extra money on hand to pay family support obligations. You might be seeking a smaller alimony or child support obligation. Your divorcing spouse might point to posts where you appear to be spending freely or earning extra income from other employment in order to undermine your argument.
If you were to post a series of unflattering things about your divorcing spouse, for example, that could be used as evidence against you in a child custody determination. This is because the court will make custody determinations based on the children’s best interest. When weighing their best interest, the court could take into account how supportive you will be of your children’s ongoing relationship with their other parent.
Consider disabling your social media accounts
Social media can be comforting, especially during lonely or stressful times. However, continuing to post on social media could lead to misunderstandings, at best, and evidence against you in some situations.
Don’t risk it. If you can, temporarily disable your accounts — or just stop using them until your divorce is finalized. If you’re unwilling to give up social media altogether, remember not to post rants about your ex, discussions of parenting or anything that could come back to haunt you.
That said, don’t go back through your social media and delete things. This could be considered evidence tampering, and it won’t necessarily keep those posts from being discovered and used in court.
If you have questions about social media use during your divorce, talk to your divorce attorney.