Social Media in a Family Law Case
Most people use some form of social media, if not multiple forms. Web sites, such as Instagram and Facebook, have become a facet of everyday life. It comes as no surprise that, as these forms of social media have become more prevalent in everyday life, they have also become important to a divorce or custody case.
However, how this media is used in a family law case depends on many different factors, and it is important that parties to a family law case understand how to properly utilize social media in proving their cases, and not hurting them.
If you are in the midst of a family law case you should consult with an attorney immediately to make sure you aren’t hurting your case through your use of social media. You should also learn how to leverage the other party’s social media use to strengthen your case.
Social Media as Evidence in a Family Law Case
Social media evidence can include a number of different forms. It includes Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat, as well as dating services sites. People freely share intimate details of their lives on social media, which includes both good and bad information. Problems arise when clients do not realize that what they put out on the Internet could come back to hurt them later in court.
For this reason, many attorneys will recommend that a client get off social media or limit what he or she posts while the case is pending.
Never assume that the privacy settings on the account are so secure that information cannot be accessed by the other party. Even if the ex-spouse is blocked or “unfriended,” he or she may still be friends with someone connected to the client, making the information accessible.
This fact then brings the question of what information is even relevant to a family law case. What is relevant can be a myriad of things, including the person’s friend list, pictures, activity log, and status updates.
If the posts show poor judgment on the part of the other party, and they share minor children, that information may be important when making determinations on custody or parenting time.
Social media is not the only form of electronic evidence that is relevant to a family law case. Courts may find text messages, call records, emails, as well as browser histories relevant in a family law case.
If you believe there is social media or other electronic evidence that could help (or hurt) your case it’s important to contact an attorney. They will teach you how to properly document everything so it can be admitted into evidence, and also how to help minimize the damage caused by your own actions.
Social Media’s Effect on Child Custody
In many family law cases, parents will try to use social media in attempts to show what the other parent is not doing or is doing that could harm the children involved.
This evidence can include pictures or posts showing that the other parent is consuming alcohol or illegal drug use, as well as other information that could put the child in danger. In some severe situations, parents have posted pictures of guns or drugs which resulted in a judge restricting the access that parent has with their children.
If one party is spending time with individuals who are not safe or stable enough to be around a minor child, this information could also be proven through social media records.
For example, if one of the parties has a new significant other who would be spending time around the child, their accounts could be considered in the case as well. If the significant other excessively drinks, does illegal drugs, or is violent, any information shared on social media regarding this person could be considered relevant and could be submitted as evidence for determining custody or access to the child.
Ultimately, the judge must consider the child’s best interests when making any decisions. If evidence exists through social media or any other form of electronic communication that could demonstrate a parent will not be making decisions that are in the child’s best interests, that evidence is relevant and should be considered.
Social Media as Evidence of Income
Additionally, social media evidence could be relevant when it comes to proving a party’s income.
For instance, if one of the parties is saying that he or she does not have a high income or says that their income has decreased, social media could prove otherwise. If they purchased a brand-new car or are taking expensive vacations, as well as posting pictures of this information online, that evidence could be considered very relevant in the case.
When presenting this evidence to the court, it is important that the proper steps are taken for it to be considered admissible. Consult a family law attorney regarding this evidence first to make sure that it is actually helpful in the case and that it could be presented to the court. Even if the evidence is not admissible, it could be helpful to the attorney in preparing a case.
Contact a Family Lawyer Today for a Free Consultation
If you have questions about how social media can affect your case, contact the family lawyers at Reppucci & Roeder. Call us today at 480-300-6012 for your FREE consultation.