As divorce lawyers in Gurnee, Illinois, our clients have asked us whether they should continue to use their social media accounts while they are going through a divorce. Social media posts can show evidence of many things such as a cheating spouse with their paramour, posts about new jobs and income, posts showing new cars and homes, pictures of a new baby and an engagement during the middle of a divorce, pictures of inappropriate behavior around the parties’ children, and other evidence. In this post, we describe 6 tips for minimizing the impact your social media accounts may have on your divorce.
1. Set all social media accounts to private – you never know who could be viewing your profile. Your posts could be viewed by the other party or their attorney or even a private investigator hired by the other side and used against you in court proceedings.
2. Be careful what you post – also have a talk with your friends and family – make sure they are not sharing information about you that could impact the court proceedings. Divorce can be an extremely sensitive time for people, you wouldn’t want to post things that can cause undue emotional upset to the other side, that they may interpret the wrong way and potentially escalate the litigation. Some offending posts could blatantly call out issues currently in litigation and should be absolutely avoided.
- Consider a child support case where the Father works a cash job, claims his income is low, but then posts pictures on Instagram of him attending concerts, buying designer clothing, and vacationing. If the posts come in as evidence of the lifestyle the Father is living, the Judge could impute income to him for child support purposes (and even sanction him if it was uncovered that he lied on his Financial Affidavit).
- Consider a termination of maintenance case where the maintenance recipient is alleged to be cohabitating with a paramour and posts a picture of herself with her paramour on Facebook, captioning it “family forever.”
- Consider a divorce case where both parties are seeking equal parenting time, yet one parent routinely vents and bashes the other parent on social media.
- Consider a divorce case where the Husband takes his girlfriend on an extravagant European vacation and posts pictures of the trip to Facebook.
- Consider a divorce case where, again, both parties are seeking equal parenting time and have been awarded equal parenting time on a temporary basis, yet, Mom doesn’t show for her parenting time and posts pictures on Facebook of herself out with friends drinking at a bar.
3. Review and pare down your “friends” and “followers” and be wary of “friending” anyone you do not know. Also, keep in mind that even if you block your spouse, a mutual friend could share your posts with them.
4. Change passwords to your phone and personal online accounts.
5. Use an “incognito window” for Google searching if living with the other party and sharing a home computer. You may not want your spouse to inadvertently find out that you’ve been researching divorce attorneys.
6. Don’t delete posts once court proceedings have begun. The failure of a party to a suit to produce evidence available to him (i.e., deleting or destroying evidence available to them) gives rise to a presumption against him.