Social media is everywhere you look in today’s society. It is rare to find a person of any age who does not use one of the many social media applications of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, SnapChat, and many more. When a person places information on any of these sites, that information is out there forever, even if the person later deletes it. Therefore, it is not surprising that these outlets provide an array of information to be used as evidence during a domestic relations case.
Generally, social media posts are admissible as evidence in court if they were not obtained by illegal or deceitful methods. For instance, your ex cannot hack into your account and use the discovered posts as evidence. However, any public post that can be viewed by anyone on the internet may legitimately be used as evidence. Also, if one of your contacts on social media were to share your post with your ex, then your ex may legitimately use that posts as evidence, as well. These posts can show evidence of almost anything: A cheating spouse with his or her mistress, posts citing a new job when that same person is alleging that he or she cannot pay child support, posts of new purchases, inappropriate rants about an ex, pictures of inappropriate behavior while in custody of the children, and so on.
The Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (AAML) conducted a survey concerning the number of domestic relations cases using social networking evidence from 2005 through 2010. The results indicated that an overwhelming amount of the nation’s top divorce attorneys have seen a drastic increase in this type of evidence being used. “Going through a divorce always results in heightened levels of personal scrutiny. If you publicly post any contradictions to previously made statements and promises, an estranged spouse will certainly be one of the first people to notice and make use of that evidence,” said Marlene Esking Moses, president of the AAML. “As everyone continues to share more and more aspects of their lives on social networking sites, they leave themselves open to much greater examinations of both their public and private lives in these sensitive situations.”
In fact, 81% of AAML members cited an increase in the use of evidence in divorce cases from social networking websites during the past five years. Facebook is the primary source, with 66%, of this type of evidence according to the AAML respondents. MySpace comes in second at 15%, other choices listed at 14%, and lastly Twitter with 5%.
In order to minimize any negative effect that social media may have on your case, we offer the following advice:
- Do not post incriminating photos
- Do not participate in back and forth banter
- Do save conversations, messages, and comments
- Do keep accounts separate and secure
If you are contemplating a divorce, please contact the experienced attorneys at Vayman & Teitelbaum. We will discuss with you the options to use social media evidence in your case and whether or not it may be advantageous.