Social media and the modern divorce

Social media is playing a huge role in modern-day divorce cases.

If you're like most Americans, you are nearly constantly connected to technology and your social network through texts, emails, apps or posts. What you may not realize, however, is that anything you post on social media (on sites like Facebook or Twitter), business networking sites (LinkedIn or Indeed), in text messages or in emails could potentially be discoverable and presented as evidence in a divorce or custody case.

The dark side of sharing

Most of us rely on our social networks (friends and family we are connected to both in real life and online) for support in times of need. This obviously makes sense, particularly when you are involved in something as life-changing as a contentious divorce or a heated custody dispute. The problem with electronic sharing is that it leaves an easily traceable and discoverable "paper trail" here in the real world.

This is well-illustrated with an example.

Let's say that Bob and Sarah are divorcing after 10 years of marriage. Sarah supported Bob financially during the first half of their marriage while he completed school. Since then, she has been working only part-time while managing their household and two children. She requests alimony as part of the divorce property settlement. Bob claims in court that his law practice is struggling and that he simply cannot afford to pay Sarah alimony.

Meanwhile, Bob has recently begun dating someone else. He has posted photos of the two of them on weekend trips and of expensive meals they've shared in fancy restaurants on his social media pages. He also purchased a new sports car not long after he and Sarah separated, and "tagged" photos of himself and friends riding in it.

Sarah and Bob had many mutual acquaintances in their social networks. One of them brings these posts to Sarah's attention, and she gives them to her divorce attorney to prove that Bob is much more financially secure than he had previously stated. This evidence was critical in getting Sarah the alimony she needed.

A similar situation could exist if Bob and Sarah were involved in a custody dispute. Sarah could argue that Bob shouldn't be granted joint custody because of photos of him and friends drinking on vacation when he was supposed to be with the children.

Consider a blackout

You must understand that, without the benefit of tone and context, things posted on social media, in texts or in emails can potentially be misconstrued or misinterpreted and paint you in a bad light. You should avoid at all costs "ranting" about your spouse, the case or the judge. Don't "check in" to locations, and advise your friends and family to not "tag" you in any potentially compromising posts or pictures, even ones that are old.

In fact, if you are going through a divorce, you should strongly consider an electronic blackout. This will help you avoid giving your spouse any "ammunition" that could possibly be used against you.

It is possible to make it through a divorce with the help and support of those around you without giving the other side fodder for their case. Using social media and electronic communication wisely is a good step toward that. Having the guidance and support of an experienced divorce attorney is another. For compassionate, dedicated family-related legal assistance in Clarksville and surrounding areas of Tennessee, call Runyon and Runyon toll free at 800-568-1534 or locally at 931-305-0061, or send them an email.