Most people live at least part of their lives in the virtual world. Social media helps your connect with friends and family, but it can also leave trails of your most private and vulnerable thoughts and experiences, some of which can impact life in the real world if you’re not careful.
During a divorce, it’s possible that your spouse can use previous social media posts as evidence against you in decisions about alimony, custody, and even property divisions.
In fact, it turns out that 81% of attorneys cite social media in the courtroom as evidence—and a third of divorce cases have some type of decisions or results stemming from what one or both parties have posted online.
How can social media be used against me in court?
Here are some of the main ways a post can come back to bite you later:
- It can impact child custody: if you’re fighting for custody of your children, any photographs, posts, or group memberships suggesting irresponsible behaviors could make an impact on the outcome. Even if you argue that this supposed evidence is out of context, outdated, or staged, it’s not a good look in a courtroom.
- Your words may be used against you: that rant about your spouse you posted on Facebook at midnight a month ago? That could be called upon as well. Your words matter, whether they’re written on the internet or spoken out loud.
- Photographs don’t lie: in the internet era, many prominent people have found themselves at the center of a scandal when old photos resurface. In a divorce courtroom, that same tactic might be employed as a character judgement or even as evidence in a case about court-ordered payments, especially if your financial story doesn’t match up with pictures found on your profile.
- Your extramarital affairs are likely to be revealed: whether you’ve been unfaithful to your spouse, spending money behind their back, or even leading a full-on double life, there are often ways to trace these behaviors through social media. Even profiles that are locked down can have revealing flaws—or, perhaps a friend will be recruited to rat you out. The evidence is likely to get out if it’s on social media.
The best way to avoid letting social media impact your divorce outcome is to exercise caution about everything you post. This advice extends into most other areas of life today, such as employment, so following the guidelines about social media best practices will serve you well into the future.