With the increasing use of technology and social media, now more than ever users have to be extremely mindful of the content that we share with the public. We’ve heard about the consequences of social media use can cause in our professional life, but not so much in our personal life. It is no surprise that in today’s modern times social media plays an increasing role in contributing to a break up within a marriage. What many do not realize however, is the effect that social media use can have during actual divorce proceeding.
In many cases, the use of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn have become second nature to many adults. When something new and exciting happens in life it is shared with friends and colleagues through social media posts and updates whether it be through the use of photos or worded posts. It is easy to forget how the content revealed in these posts can affect an upcoming divorce.
Below are some ways your divorce proceedings could be affected:
Pictures are worth a thousand words
On platforms like Instagram where you are solely sharing photos it is easy to share a photo without thinking of the message it might send. Photos that include any risky behavior such as the use of alcohol and drugs can greatly affect any custody decisions involved in the divorce. Something as simple as a girl’s night out around a table with a couple of bottles of wine can have implications. Even a photo taken in a compromising position can be viewed as sexually explicit when that was certainly not the intention.
It can potentially reveal hidden assets
Although you may have thought blocking or un-friending your spouse may have been enough to keep them out of the loop on your activities, married couples tend to have many mutual connections that can cause quite the opposite effect. If the marriage doesn’t last, of course there will be friends who are more loyal to one spouse more than the other. So, posting photos of a lavish vacation or photos of a recent purchase can have devastating effects upon a party who claims that he or she cannot afford to pay spousal maintenance or excessive child support. Many times this is learned through the social media posts that were blocked from the spouse, but not from mutual friends. Sometimes it isn’t the spouse themselves who share the content, but instead a mutual friend that shows the spouse partaken in questionable activities. It is safe to assume that anything that is shared through social media can be used against that person in the proceedings.
Any “third party” can be easily exposed
Through the use of social media any person can be located, including the “other” woman or man. Depending on their use of social media, that person’s content can be used to prove any relationship that was ongoing while the marriage was still together.
Email and text messages apply as well
Not only should you be concerned about social media use, but the use of email and text messages as well. Any reference to any assets in an email or text message can be used as evidence that a spouse may be withholding information on their financial disclosures to the Court. It is wise to not include anything in an email or text that you would not want a judge to read regardless of the relationship between the recipient and yourself. Providing false information on legal documents is considered a crime and the use of these platforms can be used as evidence to falsifying documents.
To help avoid these situations you can update your privacy setting on all social media platforms, but the only way to be completely safe is to not post or share anything that can be used in your spouse’s favor. Once something is shared with the public it is extremely hard to make it go away even once it is deleted. I’m reminded of some smart advice that a client shared with me. During orientation at a Fortune 500 company, new hires were told, never put anything in a text, email or on social media that you wouldn’t want run on the cover of the New York Times. Divorce is one of the most difficult things one will ever experience in his or her life. The last thing anyone needs is for it to be overcomplicated by a thoughtless or indiscreet comment or post. Lastly, sit down with your attorney to learn about the laws in your state and how your use of social media can adversely affect you.
Dimopoulos & Bruggemann P.C., located in Tuckahoe, N.Y, is best known for its expertise in matrimonial and family law – helping high-net-worth clients settle through often complicated divorce cases. Owner Gus Dimopoulos’ experience and readiness to go to trial has earned him a reputation as a no-nonsense litigator who is a strong advocate for his clients. For more information about Dimopoulos & Bruggemann P.C., please visit our website at www.dimolaw.com.
By Gus Dimopoulos from Dimopoulos & Bruggemann P.C.