Social Media as Evidence in Your Family Law Case?
Can Your Spouse Use Social Media as Evidence Against You?
If you are anticipating filing for divorce or going to court on a child custody matter, you may quickly learn that information gleaned from social media can have a significant impact on your case. This is not necessarily a recent revelation; the use of social media as evidence began appearing in court years ago as Facebook, Instagram, and even MySpace began growing in popularity. However, a recent New York case shows how social media evidence can materially affect your case’s outcome.
Recent Case of Social Media as Evidence in NY
In the New York case, a mother and father are in the midst of a fight over who should hold physical custody of the divorcing couple’s four-year-old son. In support of his argument that he has acted as the child’s primary caregiver, the father claimed that the wife took frequent trips during which she left the child in the father’s care. The father’s motion supported this argument with reference to posts on the mother’s Facebook page from her trips to Milan and Boston that had occurred over the summer. While the mother argued that this evidence should be excluded, the judge disagreed. Instead, the judge determined that the social media evidence provided relevant information in determining which party had spent the most time caring for the child and what environment would be best for him.
This is only one recent example of a situation that unfolds on a daily basis in family courts all around the country, including Maryland. If you’re in the midst of a contentious divorce, it may be tempting to post photos of lavish nights out on the town, expensive new items that you’ve bought, or the young and beautiful new people you’re dating since your split. While the goal may be to send a message to your ex about how great you are doing without him or her, these posts could have very negative consequences in court by reflecting poorly on your maturity and fitness as a parent. Likewise, if posts to social media pages give the impression of excess disposable income, it may be detrimental to your argument for a greater alimony allotment (or reduced ability to pay alimony).
How to Avoid Potential Backlash from Social Media as Evidence
If you’ve already posted content online that you’re wishing you could take back, don’t go on a deleting spree. Social media posts can be considered a form of relevant evidence. If your ex-spouse has already seen the posts, he or she could report to the judge that you destroyed evidence relevant to the case, resulting in potential legal and financial consequences for you. Instead, you should seek counsel from your attorney about how to best manage existing social media posts and keep a low profile moving forward, online and elsewhere.
Disclaimer: The information in this blog post is provided for general educational & informational purposes only. It is not intended to convey legal advice or serve as a substitute for legal counsel on any subject matter.