Today, it’s not uncommon for a lot of your personal life to end up on a social media platform such as Facebook or Twitter. While sharing photos of your recent trip or some amazing food you just ate is fine, you have to be careful about what you’re sharing online when you’re going through a divorce or child custody matter. Your online activity can become a literal treasure chest of evidence that isn’t in your favor in your family law case.
Things to definitely avoid
The primary rule here is to think before you post. Examples of posts that can negatively impact your case in court include:
• Photos of you with alcohol if alcohol abuse is an issue
• Photos of drug use, illegal drugs or drug paraphernalia
• Pictures of you in compromising situations
• Photos of you and the other party’s child on dating websites before the divorce is final
• Comments that insinuate or support use of illegal drugs
• Comments or statements that hint you’re hiding assets
• Comments that indicate you will bar the other party from seeing his or her child or directly interfere with court-ordered visitation
About privacy settings
Although many social media platforms have privacy settings you can use, these may not keep all your posts private in the context of your divorce. Privacy settings do keep the public and world at large from seeing your content, but they do not stop a judge from ordering you to release your social media account information so your posts can be investigated should they be brought to the attention of the court.
While there are no specific laws in New Mexico regarding social media use and divorce cases, there have already been instances where social media has played a role in family law cases. As reported by the Huffington Post, for example, the undisclosed assets of a person in a divorce case were found via his LinkedIn profile, which listed a side business he had not told the court about (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/william-morrow/a-look-at-how-social-medi_b_10633940.html). Another person claimed not to have a job when requesting alimony but had an online profile full of expensive vacation photos and comments about a job, resulting in the spousal support being denied.
What to do
If you are using your social media, think two or three times before you post anything. Remember that social media only allows for snippets and never the full story. Your joke post with something that looks like drug paraphernalia could lead to accusations of drug abuse that the court will have to investigate. Look at any posts or comments you are about to make through the lens of someone who doesn’t know you. If what you are about to put out there could look bad to a stranger in any way, your best bet is to not put that post up or make that comment.
In cases where you already have some incriminating posts up, don’t just delete them as that is removing evidence. Refer the posts or comments to your attorney instead. If you delete something, it makes it look as if you’re hiding something more than a poor joke or a post made in haste.
Stay off of social media entirely if you don’t trust yourself on it while going through your divorce and/or child custody case. These types of cases can be very stressful and upsetting, and it’s only normal to feel emotional. If you need to vent about what is going on, speak to a trusted friend or family member instead of using your social media accounts to air out your frustrations to the world and possibly the court.