Preparing for the effect of social media on a divorce

Spouses are increasingly looking online for evidence in divorce cases

With news that a recent study has found a correlation between increased Facebook activity and higher divorce rates, according to CBS News, it should come as no surprise that social media is taking an ever more prominent role in family law. In fact, nowadays what divorcing spouses do online can have a significant impact on their divorce case, including on such important matters as alimony, child custody, and child support.

Social media's role

As Forbes reports, postings to social media sites, like Facebook and Twitter, are increasingly being used as evidence in family court. During a contested divorce, for example, something that one divorcing spouse posts on Facebook could contradict what he or she has previously told a court.

A photo showing a new television set, for example, could indicate that that spouse is making a higher income than he or she has previously indicated. If that is the case, the photo could be used to justify higher alimony or child support payments. Additionally, posts that indicate irresponsible behavior, such as drug use or alcoholism, could be used as evidence in a child custody hearing.

Considering privacy

Not surprisingly, many family attorneys are advising their clients to increase their social media accounts' privacy settings. However, people should be aware that increased privacy settings only go so far. Mutual friends of both divorcing spouses, for example, could report to one spouse what the other spouse is posting online. The best advice when it comes to social media and divorce is to simply stay away from social media altogether or else risk derailing a divorce case.

Additionally, messages that many people would consider private, such as emails and text messages, can be used as evidence in family law cases. As a result, most divorcing spouses should consider anything they do online, even if it appears private, to have the potential to eventually appear in court.

Legal advice

The above story shows that when it comes to divorce, it pays to have qualified and experienced help throughout the process. While many people are tempted to face a divorce court without legal representation, the truth is that family law is fraught with unforeseen obstacles and complications. An experienced family attorney can advise clients about how to best approach their divorce and what actions, both online and offline, may have an impact on their specific case.