Americans are in love with social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, Flickr, Snapchat, and Tumblr. These digital connections have, in fact, become a window on the world for many people, and it seems that many of the users forget that while they are looking out, people they might not want to are looking in.
So, can social media affect your divorce? You bet. Adweek cites a case where a woman was fighting for $850 a month in alimony based on a debilitating injury suffered while she was still married. MySpace and Facebook posts showed her belly dancing. Alimony was denied.
Any divorce lawyer can tell you the moral of that story: The most important thing people put online is their reputation.
Social Media and Divorce – Cause and Effect
OK, so you don’t belly dance and wouldn’t even think of posting an image of yourself dancing, not even a slow dance. There is other social media legal harm to consider:
- Facebook was cited in 1 out of 5 divorces in the U.S., according to a Loyola University Health System study done in 2009.
- There has been an 81 percent increase in cases using social networking evidence, according to the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers.
- About 66 percent of divorce evidence found online comes from Facebook, making it the primary online source, according to the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers.
Social media also has a prominent role in behavior leading to divorce. The online site Bustle notes a few of the ways social media can cause harm to your relationship:
- Many users cite Facebook as a cause of jealousy in their relationships.
- Too much time spent on social media is the most common cause of big social media arguments.
- Ten percent of users surveyed admitted to hiding Facebook posts from their partners.
- Eight percent of adults surveyed admitted to having secret social media accounts.
- Twenty-five percent of adults surveyed reported having fights about Facebook weekly.
- Twenty percent of adults surveyed said what they found on Facebook had undermined their relationships.
What Can Your Lawyer Use in a Divorce Case?
If you are in the middle of a tough divorce fight, it’s useful to know what social media evidence your spouse can use against you, and vice versa. FamilyLawyerMagazine.com tackles that head-on in an article from 2016. It notes that courts have ruled social media content is usable because:
- It does not violate any privacy because there is no expectation of privacy.
- It can be relevant.
- It does not violate any privilege.
The article also notes that e-mail, text messages, and computer hard drives can be a “minefield or goldmine” for a divorce lawyer, depending on how the information is accessed.
You know social media evidence is out there, so how does your lawyer get it? Ask for it. Requests deemed reasonable efforts to find admissible evidence typically are granted by the court. For example:
- An attorney can request the names of all social media sites the other side uses/used, including usernames, passwords, and Internet addresses.
- An attorney can “friend” the targeted party and use information from the account if accepted, or the client can have a friend do it on their behalf.
- Subscribers to dating sites typically can be forced to hand over the questionnaires filled out to subscribe.
It is too late to control past behavior on social media. However, you can control what you post from here forward. Your best bet is to keep a low profile and refrain from sharing anything that can be misinterpreted or used against you.
Charles R. Ullman & Associates Can Help with Your Divorce
The reputation of Charles R. Ullman & Associates in North Carolina is one built on years of service to communities in and around Raleigh and Wake County. Our family law attorneys take pride in their compassion, courtroom skills, and dedication to staying on top of evolving legal issues such as social media’s effects and uses in divorce cases. Contact us today if you need help getting through this heart-rending phase of your life.