As social media continually increases its role in our day-to-day lives, we are reminded to watch what we post. Charged words against a group of people could result in job loss while pictures from weekend antics could come up in a job interview. And, even though many continue to make these mistakes, in general, we are more mindful about what we post because we know the potential consequences.
While in divorce proceedings, monitoring what you post becomes equally important. Social media is popping up as evidence in cases more and more frequently as it becomes a staple of societal communication. Once something is out there, be that words or images, it can be used in court as grounds for child custody arrangements, financial agreements, and determining the cause for divorce.
Determining Who Is At Fault
Often, who is at “fault” for the divorce and who is the “victim” can directly affect alimony and the distribution of assets. Evidence of infidelity instantly makes that partner considered responsible for the divorce.
When preparing for divorce hearings, it is very likely that your former spouse’s attorney will spend time digging into your social media pages. Any evidence of possible infidelity, such as photographs, posts back and forth, an online dating profile, can be used to influence how much alimony is received.
In South Carolina, adultery is considered cause for a “fault-based” divorce. It is one of many states that prevent any spouse who has engaged in infidelity from receiving alimony. Therefore, if anything on your social media shows evidence of this, ramifications should be expected.
Consequences for Posting
In addition to evidence of infidelity, attorneys look to social media to determine assets and sources of income not fully disclosed by their client’s former spouse. For instance, if a spouse reveals a new position or job through a Facebook post, comments on someone else’s post, or even a LinkedIn profile, attorneys will likely locate it and the judge will take this into account when determining child or spousal support. Photographs of lavish vacations and expensive cars can also tell a judge a spouse may not have been completely forthcoming in regards to finances.
A spouse’s digital media presence may also alter the result of child custody cases. Photographs or posts of a parent engaging in irresponsible behavior while with the children could potentially result in reduced custody or even supervised visitation.
What You Can Do
When you are considering divorce be aware of how your digital presence can impact it, when divorce is pending, and even when it has been finalized, it is advisable to either stay off of social media altogether or, if unavoidable, to be extremely aware of how you are portraying yourself.
As you post, consider all of the potential viewers. Often, in such a tumultuous time, these viewers include not only your friends, but friends of your former spouse who may send a screenshot of the post, your former spouse’s lawyer, and, eventually, a trial judge. Additionally, remind your family members and friends to be sure to monitor what they post of you, whether or not you are “tagged.” You want to present yourself in the best way possible.
Divorce is a stressful process that results in a roller coaster of emotions and, at times, a desire for revenge. The inclination to share compromising posts or photographs, even just to show the world how well you are doing, will often result in unintended consequences. Discussing the implications of a digital media presence with a family law attorney can be a necessary step in your divorce proceedings.