Your Guide to Social Media During DivorcePublished: Feb 17, 2017 in Divorce
Written by Anthony Piccirilli
In this modern age, it is true that online comments, posts, messages, and pictures can affect the outcome of your divorce. Whether the information is taken from Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Tinder, or another platform, it can be used in court. If you are getting a divorce and you or your former spouse have social media accounts, you should speak with a Pittsburgh divorce lawyer from Pittsburgh Divorce & Family Law, LLC as soon as possible. Attorney Anthony Piccirilli is well versed in the benefits and perils of social media and can help you navigate this online world during your divorce.
Call today at (412) 471-5100 to schedule a consultation. In the meantime, use the following information as your guide to social media during divorce.
Social Medial Can Affect Your Divorce
It is becoming increasingly common for social media content to be used to prove you or your spouse had an affair. This could include pictures of you or your spouse in compromising situations with others, online check in’s at restaurants and hotels, comments or private messages made by you, your spouse or others that insinuate a romantic or sexual relationship outside of the marriage.
Online content may suggest you or your spouse have sources of income that have not been disclosed to the court. This can lead to deeper investigations into your or your spouse’s total income for the sake of dividing the marital estate or calculating spousal support or child support.
Social media can also be used to influence child custody or visitation. For instance, if there are pictures of you or your ex-spouse using illegal substances, abusing the children, or comments by either party disparaging the other, then a judge may be reluctant to give you or your ex-spouse a significant amount of custody or unsupervised visitation due to concern for the children’s well-being.
A Rise of Social Media App Evidence in Divorces
Divorce attorneys around the country have noticed a rise in social media evidence. A 2015 survey by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers found 97 percent of AAML members witnessed an increase in the amount of divorce evidence taken from smartphones and wireless devices, including texts and data from apps, over the previous three years. Sixty-seven percent specifically noticed evidence being gathered from apps. The top three websites for divorce evidence were not shocking: Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. However, Snapchat, GoogleMaps, Google+, Find My iPhone, WhatsApp and Tinder were all mentioned as well.
Social Media is Often Admissible Evidence
Evidence is information used to prove something or to support your or your former spouse’s position on an issue. When a piece of information, which could be a picture, document, email, text message, or social media data, is allowed, it is called admissible. When something is not allowed to be used as evidence in court, it is inadmissible.
Social media is, in general, admissible evidence in court. A picture, message, or comment made online will be treated like any other piece of information by the court. To be admissible, it must be relevant to the case, able to be authenticated (which means ensuring it is real and has not been tampered with), and that it does not violate a hearsay rule.
One of the most important issues regarding social media is that it is lawfully obtained, such as online through a public profile or through a proper discovery request. If your spouse obtained your social media posts by hacking your account or creating a fake account to “friend” or connect with you, then your attorney may be able to have this evidence labeled as inadmissible.
Reconsider Your Social Media Strategy During Your Divorce
When you are headed for a divorce, it is time to consider how you currently use social media and if you need to make any adjustments. The last thing you want is a fight over an ambiguous comment on your Facebook feed. However, you should not have to give up an important connection to friends, family, and colleagues due to the divorce.
If you have one or more social media accounts, you should:
- Pause your accounts: Many platforms offer you a way to suspend the use of your account for a period of time. This can enable you to take your accounts offline without deleting anything. If you are the kind of person who is tempted to vent online or you do not want your spouse to be able to keep tabs of you, this may be the way to go. However, keep in mind this does not stop your spouse from using your previous social media content during the divorce.
- Don’t post information: You may want to keep track of your ex-partner’s social media accounts but you should refrain from posting anything new during the divorce proceedings. This can be the best way to keep up with friends and family without posting any new information about yourself or your kids.
- Don’t delete anything: If you think there may be negative contents on your social media posts that could hurt you in the divorce, you may be tempted to go delete. However, you should not do this. Going through and deleting your accounts or specific content within your accounts can be damning and lead to accusations that you are trying to get rid of important evidence. Instead, speak with your divorce attorney about the content that worries you right away.
Contact a Pittsburgh Divorce Lawyer Today
If you have seen concerning content on your former spouse’s social media platforms or you think he or she may have content that can be used against you online, do not hesitate to call attorney Anthony Piccirilli of Pittsburgh Divorce & Family Law, LLC at (412) 471-5100.
Attorney Piccirilli uses his experience and skills along with compassion to offer the strongest possible representation during your divorce. The goal of his practice is to help individuals going through a difficult time move forward with life and building stronger, happier families.