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How social media is changing divorce and child custody cases

How social media is changing divorce and child custody cases

It used to be the case that individuals who were preparing for a divorce would hire a private investigator to “tail” their spouse to discover evidence of an affair, hidden assets or anything else that could be damaging in court. Now, such evidence is generally just a mouse click away, thanks to social media sites like Facebook.

We are in the age of over-sharing, and many people unwittingly post personal information that could be damaging to their divorce or child custody case. In fact, Facebook is now cited in approximately one-third of divorce cases.

onsider the type of information that Facebook users often post. You may brag about a promotion or bonus at work, an expensive vacation, a new significant other or a picture of yourself drinking beer at a friend’s party. None of these posts is necessarily damaging in and of itself. But they may be spun by your spouse to discredit you or seemingly catch you in a lie.

It’s common for individuals to claim that their spouse is hiding assets, and to use social media posts to back up that claim – an expensive vacation, a gift for a new boyfriend/girlfriend or a frivolous personal purchase.

In other cases, your spouse may try to use pictures and posts on Facebook to paint you as an unfit parent during a child custody dispute. If you are holding a beer in a picture of what looks to be a wild party, your spouse may claim that you have a drinking problem. Sharing stories about your kids online? Your spouse may claim you are violating their privacy. Going on a date with a new significant other? Your spouse may claim you are behaving irresponsibly and disrespectfully toward your children.

If you are in the midst of a divorce or a child custody dispute, the safest course of action is usually a full social media blackout. Anything you post (or even send through private messaging) could potentially be used against you in ways you did not consider.

If you are unable to resist keeping and using your social media accounts, please confer with your attorney about anything you plan to post. With so many divorce cases now involving evidence gleaned from Facebook, none of us can afford to be careless with our personal information.

Source: The Washington Times, “Facebook cited in a third of all divorce cases: ‘It’s like having a massive public noticeboard’,” Cheryl K. Chumley, Jan. 21, 2015

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