It’s pretty uncommon to find anyone who isn’t active on at least one social media channel these days. And, given that many people overshare on their online profiles, the use of social media in litigation is on the rise. The plaintiffs’ social media posts, comments, and activities have been used by defense attorneys in everything from personal injury claims to child custody cases. Even if you don’t have children, it should not come as any surprise that your soon-to-be ex’s attorney will be pulling information from your social media channels as well.
Social media has become ubiquitous in our society. Most people do not think twice about opening up their phones or computers and posting a selfie or an update about what they are currently eating. While social media posts may seem harmless, they may come back to haunt you during a divorce.
Before you go out and attempt to delete every post from your past, which could be deemed spoliation of evidence, here’s what you need to know about social media and divorce.
What kind of posts could be used against me?
Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, and more. All of these are common social media platforms used by adults in this country. A study from Pew researchers found that around 70% of all adults in the US used Facebook during the latest reporting year.
If you are going through a divorce, you should probably restrict your time on social media significantly. A divorce is a sensitive time for everybody involved, and there is a chance you will say something or post something on social media that your spouse may take the wrong way and get upset or angry about. While you may not care if your spouse gets angry, a contentious divorce can make things much more difficult throughout the process.
Another reason to avoid social media is that it has become one of the easiest ways to prove adulterous behavior by a spouse. Adultery is one of the four grounds for a fault-based divorce in South Carolina. Even if a party has not committed adultery, social media posts could be used to insinuate that adulterous behavior has occurred.
Social Media Can Prove Infidelity
Years ago, attorneys would need to retain the services of a private investigator to try and track down whether a spouse has been cheating or not. Thanks to social media, evidence of infidelity is often a few keystrokes away. If you’re in the middle of a divorce, do not get involved in another relationship even after your official separation. It’s a guarantee that the other side will be making the argument you were having an affair long before you separated. If you are starting to see someone after your separation, do not create social media evidence of it.
Social Media Can Be Used to Show Unfit Parent
If you do have a child, there is no question that the other side will be looking for any little detail on your social media that can help further their position in a custody and visitation case. Evidence that points to a party lifestyle could be used against you. Using social media to vent about something that seems innocent at the time can also be used to show you are not as capable as a parent. Topics like religion and politics incite a lot of heated discussions in some cases. Your responses to your own posts and comments made on public pages can work against you in a divorce.
Things to Keep in Mind with Social Media
Remember, even if you lock down your accounts and keep them private, you’re bound to have friends who are also friends with your spouse. This means they may take a screenshot of something you posted, so even if you lock down your security settings, it’s not an absolute that you can post whatever you want.
You can’t delete old posts, but you do have control over current and future posts. Lay off the social media if you can for the duration of your divorce, especially if there is child custody at stake too.
If you haven’t changed your passwords, it’s critical you change them to something your spouse won’t guess or recognize.
What if my profiles are set to private?
Many people think that when they set their profiles to “private mode” that nobody other than their friends and followers can see what they are doing. There are various scenarios in which a private post can easily become public. A friend or family member could re-share a post that you make. Your spouse could use another person’s account to gain access to your postings.
The bottom line is that nothing you post online is truly private.
What to do if you are going through a divorce
If you are going through a divorce, contact our Greenville divorce attorney for a consultation of your case today. The Elliott Frazier Law Firm will be able to give you advice about all aspects of the divorce process, including social media use so that you are in the best position possible for a favorable outcome.
Retaining a South Carolina Divorce Attorney
If you have questions on how social media impacts family law matters, or you need a South Carolina divorce attorney, contact our skilled team of attorneys at Elliott Frazier Law Firm, LLC. Let one of our knowledgeable lawyers help with all your family law needs.
Angela Elliot Frazier is a Family Law Attorney who practices in Greenville, SC. She graduated from the University of South Carolina School of Law, and has been practicing law for 14 years now. Angela Frazier believes in helping you through one of the most stressful times of your life. Learn more about her experience by clicking here.