#ThinkAgain (Part 1) How Social Media Can Harm your Divorce or Child Custody Case
Today, almost everyone has one or more social media accounts. Many people spend a significant amount of time on social media posting about their own lives and reading about the lives of their friends and acquaintances. These sites allow people to share and distribute personal information on a level never before seen in human history.
However, we all know by now that social media can be misleading. It is human nature to want to present yourself in a certain way that may not be altogether accurate. You may attempt to present yourself as better looking through the use of filters or photography hacks. Or you might post many photos of vacations or purchases that make you seem like you have more money than you actually do. Normally, these types of posts would not do anybody much harm. But when you are going through a divorce or child custody case, posts like this can really pack a negative punch. Today we will take a look at how a simple social media post can destroy your court case, and what you can do about it.
Privacy Settings and Deletions Will Not Protect You
Never allow your privacy settings to give you a false sense of security. Once you put something on the internet, it is there forever and you never really have total control over it again. For instance, imagine that you are in the middle of a child custody case. While your kids are in your home, you decide to get a babysitter and go out for the evening. You go out with friends to a club and have a great time. So great, in fact, that you decide to post about it. Your ex is no longer a “friend” on Facebook, so you don’t see the harm. Your privacy settings will protect you, right?
So you post some photos of you and your friends drinking and dancing the night away. Now imagine you wake up the next morning and have second thoughts about the photos. You really don’t think it’s a big deal, but you take them down because you realize you don’t want everyone to see that you went partying while you had custody of the kids. Well, this instinct was a good one—but it may be too little too late. Your post only has to be up long enough for someone to take a screenshot of it for the post to come back to haunt you in court. A mutual friend may see it, take a screenshot, and send it to your ex. Then your ex gives the screenshot to their lawyer who subsequently uses it to make you look like an irresponsible parent in court. Furthermore, the act of deleting the post can be used to show that you are trying to hide something from the judge. Either way, none of this is good news.
The Worst Part
Quite often, social media posts do not accurately portray who and what we really are. You may want to appear to your friends like you have “gotten over” your ex and are having the time of your life, when in fact, you spend most days and nights alone. But you don’t want people to know that, so you only post things that make you look like you are having the time of your life.
The problem is that a judge is likely to take a photo or post literally. When a judge is trying to determine which parent’s lifestyle is most conducive to raising well-adjusted children, they will take photos of you out painting the town red in five-inch stilettos seriously. You’ve heard the expression that a picture is worth a thousand words? Well, that expression holds true in court. No matter how much you object and attempt to explain away the post, when a judge holds that type of proof in their hand, you may pay a hefty price.
How to Handle Social Media During Your Court Case
The lawyers at Jarbath Pena Law Group have seen social media posts have serious negative consequences in family law cases. Our advice is to stop all use of social media while your case is pending. That is simply the best way to make certain that nothing you post can be taken out of context and used against you in court. But if you simply cannot get yourself to cut ties with your social media usage altogether, here are some types of posts to avoid.
Never post anything about partying, drinking, or drug use. Any post that makes you look like you'd rather be drinking with friends than taking care of your kids and paying the bills will cast you in a bad light.
Your spouse’s attorney can use these posts in negotiations and in front of a judge to make you look bad. So just don’t do it.
Never, ever post anything negative about your ex or your court case while the case is pending. In fact, you should really never post anything like this even after the case is over. Certain aspects of a divorce case, and all child custody and support cases, are open for future modification if there is a significant change in circumstances. If and when your ex petitions the court for a modification, you do not want post-divorce rants about your ex or the judge to come back to bite you. Vent to friends in person, or start a journal. But keep that stuff off the internet.
Resist the urge to misrepresent your financial status to the world. Finances play a big part in child support, alimony, and asset or debt distribution during a divorce. You may be tempted to post about your last expensive purchase or lavish vacation, but if you do, know that you may pay a hefty price. If a judge sees that you are claiming to live just above the poverty level while posting photos of Alaskan cruises, they are likely to believe you are lying about your income. This could negatively impact asset distribution, alimony, and child support decisions, and hurt you for years to come.
Do not post anything online about who you are dating. In fact, we advise against joining any online dating services while your case is pending. Just do yourself a favor and wait until the ink is dry on your divorce or child custody case before diving into the dating scene.
We Are Here for You
The experienced and knowledgeable family law attorneys at The Jarbath Peña Law Group know Florida family law. We have helped hundreds of clients through their divorce, child custody, and child support cases in Coral Gables and the surrounding Miami area—and we would love to help you. We can help you navigate the sometimes murky waters of family law by creating a strategy created specifically for your situation. We can negotiate your case out of court, or bring it to trial if you and your ex cannot reach a fair agreement. We will never stop fighting to protect your rights, and keep your family intact. So set up your free initial consultation today by calling 305-615-1005 or through our online contact form. We look forward to serving you!