Divorce laws have changed some in the past years. However, for the most part, divorce law and decisions has remained relatively steady for years. Not to say there has not been changes but nothing that has dramatically changed the landscape of family law.
But there has been a dramatic change in the type of evidence being used more and more in divorce and family law cases. This has to do with how we are increasingly communicating with each other. Social media has become a very vital part of our everyday lives. For some, it is a very important way to express one’s self and stay connected to friends and family. However, the same benefits of social media can also be its greatest negative when it comes to divorce and family law. Social media can also be a great benefit in a divorce case. But one thing is for sure, divorce and social media are here to stay.
The information, photos and video posted on social media are there for anyone to see. This information can be collected and saved by others. This information can be used against a person when litigation occurs. Many times posts or photos are submitted to the court in divorce cases to give the court a clear picture of what is really happening in a case. Sometimes there posts are irrelevant to a court case but one does not know what effect it may have on the court’s decision-making process. One area of family law where social media can potentially have an effect is with child custody and parenting time issues. Depending on the content, the effect can either be positive or negative.
Another concern with social media is someone hijacking a social media account and posting information that is untrue. But since this information is coming from your account it is attributed to you even though you never posted that comment on Facebook. This stuff actually happens. I have seen this in a criminal case and a family law case. For this reason, once a divorce cases starts I advise my clients to change passwords on all social media accounts. I also advise clients to stay off social media or carefully post information on social media. Remember, someone is looking at your account and may be looking to use that information against you.
Smartphones are another source of evidence in divorce cases. Think of all the photos, text messages, videos, emails, and internet browsing history that are in an average smartphone. A smartphone has become a device that stores our private thoughts. However, increasingly these devices are being used more and more in divorce cases. It is important to change passwords for these devices too.
There are both good and bad things about social media and smartphones. However, it is best to assume that anything you put on your social media account and smartphone could be submitted to the court and read by a judge. I advise my client to keep that in mind when using social media.
Jeff Burleson is a skilled divorce and family attorney serving Kitsap county and all surrounding communities. He understands social media and how it cuts both ways in a divorce case. If you have any questions about a divorce or family law issue, contact Jeff for a consultation.