As anyone who uses social media knows, what gets posted online can affect issues offline, including divorce cases. Words, photos, and videos posted on social media can be damaging evidence in a divorce, particularly if you and your spouse have a contentious divorce. Being aware of how social media can affect divorce proceedings could help you avoid a misstep and help you pursue a more favorable outcome.
For more than 50 years, the Austin divorce lawyers at Minton, Bassett, Flores & Carsey, P.C., have helped Texas residents navigate the process of separation and divorce. We have seen how social media can impact divorce cases. We want to help you work through this challenging time and seek a positive outcome. Keep reading to learn more about how social media can be used as evidence in divorce cases.
How Social Media Can Be Used in Divorce Cases
Social media can affect divorce cases in multiple ways:
- Cause for divorce– Spouses who spend too much time online may neglect their marital relationship, causing conflict with their partners. Social media use could be a cause for divorce if a spouse feels it has led to a decline in the quality of the marriage.
- Evidence of infidelity– If a spouse alleges infidelity as grounds for divorce, their partner’s social media activity, including messages online, could be used as proof of an extramarital affair.
- Evidence of lifestyle choice — Photos posted on social networking sites of you consuming alcohol or carousing with friends can reflect negatively on your lifestyle choices and be used as evidence against you.
- Evidence of assets– If one spouse believes the other spouse is hiding assets, social media posts, including photos or videos, could be used to prove these assets exist.
Nothing posted on social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram is fully private, regardless of the privacy setting you select.
Example of Social Media Posts as Evidence in Divorce Cases
Legal experts say that social media posts may be used as evidence in divorce proceedings and can be particularly damaging in custody disputes. When celebrity Kim Kardashian filed for divorce from rapper Kanye West after seven years of marriage, West made numerous posts on Instagram about the divorce proceedings that included inflammatory comments about Kardashian and her then-boyfriend. While Kardashian and West ultimately agreed to joint custody of their children, inflammatory social media posts that don’t foster a healthy parent-child relationship could influence a court’s decision as to custody arrangements.
Be Mindful of What You Post on Social Media During a Divorce
If you have filed for divorce from your spouse, it is best to avoid social media entirely. Anything you post, even if your settings are set to private, may be found and used against you in an adversarial divorce proceeding. If you want to maintain your social media presence, here are some things to avoid:
- A solo announcement about the divorce– It’s understandable to want to share with your friends and family the news of a life-changing decision like a divorce. But announcing your divorce on social media could harm your case. No matter how carefully you word your post, you could say something that is misinterpreted or that you may later regret. If you must announce your divorce on social media, you should make a joint statement with your spouse. The statement should be reviewed by your lawyer before it is posted.
- Negative posts about your spouse– You may be justifiably angry at your spouse and have a good reason for your anger. But making derogatory comments about your spouse on social media could influence a judge’s custody decision or adversely affect your case.
- Posts with a new dating partner–Avoid posting photos with new romantic interests until your divorce is finalized.
- Posts about significant purchases– A couple’s finances and how to divide marital assets and debts are central issues in any divorce case. If you post on social media about buying a new car or making another major purchase, it could distort the court’s perception of your finances.
- Posts about your children– If you and your spouse disagree about the custody of your children, anything you post on social media may be scrutinized in deciding the custody issues. Avoid posting anything that could give your spouse an excuse to call your parenting into question.
How To Behave on Social Media During a Divorce
It is best to stay off social media entirely until your divorce is finalized. However, if quitting social media until your divorce concludes is impossible, keep the following guidelines in mind:
- To avoid antagonizing your spouse, do not change your relationship status until the divorce is finalized
- Do not respond to any social media posts or messages from your spouse, especially if they are about the divorce
- Do not post any pictures or comments about drinking alcohol or partying.
- Don’t post anything you would not want a judge or a lawyer to see
Navigating Privacy Concerns on Social Media During a Divorce
If you are worried about your spouse snooping on you during a divorce, here are a few tips to follow:
- Change your passwords to your social media accounts and other critical accounts
- Turn off GPS tracking on your social media accounts and personal devices
- Consider purchasing a new phone or data plan
- Check your phone and computers for spyware
- Turn off shared data services
Do Spouses Have a Right to Privacy During a Divorce?
Yes, spouses have a limited right to privacy during a divorce case, but knowing the limits of that right is crucial to avoiding mistakes as your case proceeds. Your spouse generally does not have the right to snoop through your email or record a phone conversation without your consent. You also have the right to privacy within your home.
However, if you are in a public place, your spouse may have the right to photograph or record you on video. A Texas divorce lawyer can tell you more about your privacy rights during divorce cases.
Contact an Experienced Divorce Lawyer in Austin, TX, Today
The Austin divorce attorneys at Minton, Bassett, Flores & Carsey, P.C., can answer your questions about divorce and the use of social media during divorce proceedings. Call us today or visit our contact page for a confidential consultation with an experienced divorce lawyer in Austin.