With the prevalence of social media, we’ve seen a variety of changes throughout our culture today. From politics to our professional lives, everyone has to answer for the things that they put on the Internet through various social media accounts. Unsurprisingly, social media has also changed the landscape of divorce.
According to the American Association for Matrimonial Lawyers (A.A.M.L), 81% of our nation’s top divorce attorneys say they’ve seen an increase in the number of cases using social media in the last 5 years. ( http://www.aaml.org/about-the-academy/press/press-releases/e-discovery/big-surge-social-networking-evidence-says-survey-) Attorneys and investigators are combing though the social media pages of not only opposing parties but their own clients, trying to find any skeletons hiding in their internet closets.
The pictures that you posted from spring break in college a decade ago probably won’t matter, but pictures that you have posted since you became a parent, or comments that you’ve made, or even websites that you have linked to may be used to paint a less than flattering picture for the judge deciding how to divide your assets and with whom your children should live. And most social media companies have detailed archives that make everything you have ever posted available to the discovery requests of your soon-to-be former spouse.
But cleaning up your social media pages may not be the answer either. Once a lawsuit for divorce is filed, any attempts to delete information from social media pages could lead to sanctions from the court for spoliation of evidence. Spoliation of evidence occurs when a party destroys information or documents during litigation or even when a party should reasonably believe that litigation is likely to occur.
The best advice: always be aware of what you are posting online and don’t post anything that could come back to haunt you later. If you find yourself heading toward divorce, do not delete your social media pages, but cease posting and consider suspending (not deleting) your pages until the divorce is complete, to avoid charges of spoliation. Above all, always keep in mind the dangers of social media.
If you need legal advice in this area or any other area of family law, contact us to set up a consultation immediately.