Social media is a great way to stay in touch with friends and family. In the past, you needed to make multiple phone calls to keep those close to you up-to-date about your life. Now you can post or tweet an update or picture onto Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, or Twitter, and in just an instant, let those you love know how you are doing. Nevertheless, if your marriage is breaking up, then you need to know how to handle your divorce and social media.
The improper use of social media during a divorce can have a major impact on what happens, affecting such things as child custody and visitation, marital asset distribution, and the process of settlement negotiations. The key rule of thumb to always keep in mind is that whatever you post on social media is public, discoverable by your ex-spouse, and will last forever. So to keep things from turning into a social media divorce, it is vital that you understand these helpful tips before you post something you will later regret.
Everything You Post Can Be Used Against You in a Divorce
This is crucial to understand. You have no right to privacy on social media when it comes to legal proceedings like a divorce. If you have had discussions with your attorney, the last thing you should do is post about them on Facebook. This is true even if you have the highest privacy settings on your social media account. While this will prevent anyone you haven’t followed back, friended, or connected with from seeing your social media content, it will not prevent your spouse and his or her attorney from obtaining this information.
Everything you post on social media is subject to discovery in a divorce proceeding in New York. This state has an open discovery rule for civil matters, meaning that except for limited privileges such as attorney-client communications, every document, conversation, and recording must be turned over to the other side. So, before you hit that “post” button on Twitter, think two or three times. Are you about to post something that you do not want your ex to see? If the answer is “yes,” then you should not post the information.
Social Media Posts that Contain Questionable Content Can and Will Hurt You
Folks love to post funny and racy content on social media platforms like TikTok and Instagram. You can build up a large and loyal following fairly quickly with content that may be seen to encourage things like gambling, sexual promiscuity, and other questionable content. Furthermore, some folks like to use social media to find other individuals dealing with substance abuse and other problems as a way of finding emotional support. While this may be fine for most people, if you are going through a divorce, this kind of content can present problems.
If you are in a dispute with your spouse over child custody and visitation, the court will look to the best interests of the child. This is a very broad definition that gives a great deal of discretion to the judge presiding over your case here in New York. As a result, your spouse can introduce into evidence things that you posted on the Internet to call into question your fitness as a parent. The last thing you want to have to happen is to have to explain a TikTok video you posted as a joke.
Questionable content can also harm your share of marital assets. New York uses equitable distribution to determine how marital assets are divided in a divorce. This means that it will not only take into account the finances of the spouses but also if they engaged in any conduct that harmed the financial well-being of the marriage. This is called wasteful dissipation, and it looks at the economic impact of things like gambling and substance abuse. If you posted about gambling, extramarital affairs, your abuse of drugs or alcohol, or similar vices, this might be used to reduce your share of the marital estate in a divorce.
Don’t Delete Any Social Media Content
Divorces are civil actions. This means that they are governed by New York’s discovery rules for civil lawsuits. It is against the law to hide, damage, or destroy anything that may be used as evidence in a lawsuit. This is called spoliation of evidence and can lead to sanctions against you. Therefore, you cannot delete anything you posted on social media from the past, no matter how personally embarrassing.
If You Have Nothing Good to Say About Your Spouse, Say Nothing
We are all tempted to get emotional support in our lives, which is why so many people turn to social media. However, no matter how strong the temptation is, do not post anything negative about your spouse while you are going through a divorce. All of those likes and heart emojis might feel great in the days after your negative post about your spouse on Instagram, but they will hurt you in the long run.
First, you can be accused of disparagement, calling into question your fitness as a parent. Second, it could harm your children by making the community aware of the bitterness of your divorce. Finally, it could make negotiating a settlement more difficult for your attorney. A spouse who has been on the receiving end of a nasty post or tweet might be less inclined to act reasonably during settlement negotiations.
If You Are Going Through a Divorce, You Better Call Saul!
Divorces can be some of the most difficult cases, combining personal feelings with financial consequences. You need to turn to an attorney who will fight for you, making sure you get the best divorce results possible. The Saul Law Firm, LLP, is committed to helping you through this tough time in your life while protecting your rights and best interests.