If You are Going Through a Divorce or Custody Case, Think Twice Before Posting on Social Media

This is an update to my post which is dated September 28th.   My September 28th post explains that voice-messages, emails and text messages can be used against you (or by you for that matter) in a divorce case.  But our world has gone far beyond emails, texts and voice messages.  Now there is Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Tumblr, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Google + and WhatsApp just to name a few of the most popular social media websites these days.  (Does anyone know where Myspace went?)  When you “friend” people on Facebook or start a dialogue or put posts on any of these sites, you may not even give a thought to how the post can come back to haunt you.

It is not unusual for people to try to use social media against each other in a divorce case.

I have seen cases  where both of the parties sought to use Facebook posts against each other in trial.   One example might be the wife who claims she can’t make ends meet.  But at trial, the husband shows a post showing her next to the new BMW she just bought or leased.  I have also seen cases where one of the parties to a divorce “spies” on the other party by having someone “friend” the other party to get access to a private Facebook page to try to find references to show the spouse is hiding money.

Social media posts can affect a custody case.

There are ways, which your use of social media can hurt you in a custody case.  Pictures of you hanging out at Humpy’s holding a drink in your hand is probably harmless.  But, if the other parent is trying to make a case that you do not have good parenting skills because you drink during your parenting time, the last thing you want to see marked as a trial Exhibit is a picture of you in front of your television in home holding a drink in one hand and your baby on your lap.

The moral of the story hasn’t changed: When in doubt, don’t hit the post button.

Here is a story, which is part true and part fiction to illustrate what can happen.  Many years ago, probably at a time when the “World Wide Web” and the “Internet” were separate creatures a wife was extremely angry about the affair her husband had just before they separated.  So she wrote a Christmas card describing the affair and sent copies to everyone in her family and in his family.  As you might imagine, she was not particularly kind in how she described her husband. There was a dispute over custody of the two children.  The custody investigator ended up with a copy of the Christmas card. The custody investigator’s report expressed concern that if the wife was awarded custody of the children, her anger might cause her to interfere with the relationship between the children and their father.  Fortunately for the wife, the husband did not object to having the children live primarily with his wife.  She was lucky.
Where does this story leave us?  As I said in my September 28th post, do yourself, your kids and your lawyer a favor.  You might feel good for the moment if you post about what a terrible person your spouse is.  But when the post shows up as a trial exhibit, you are probably going to wish you had not hit the “post” button.  You might even remember the rule that if you don’t have something nice to say about someone, it is better just to say nothing.

Posted in: Divorce