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Social Media: How It May Be Used Against You in Divorce

Social media, like Facebook, Twitter, TikTok and similar platforms, is part of many of our lives.  According to one recent poll, nearly 70% of Americans use social media daily.  But what happens when social media intersects with a divorce?  Unfortunately, most of the consequences usually aren’t beneficial for the poster.  What are some of the traps and how can you minimize them?   Family law attorney Kathleen M. Newman of the DeWitt LLP Law Firm uses her 35 years of family law experience to help clients avoid traps threatening their interests in divorce.

  What are some important facts about social media in the context of divorce?

  1. Social media may be admissible evidence in your divorce proceeding and therefore it’s safest to assume anything you put on social media may be used against you in court;
  2. While Minnesota is a “no fault” divorce state, this does not prevent social media from being used against you, especially in custody and parenting time cases; and
  3. The law precludes parties from destroying evidence so don’t be lulled into thinking you can later delete harmful social media. 

What are some common ways social media can be used against you in a divorce?  

  1. It may subject you to a lawsuit if your statement is: (a) communicated to someone other than your spouse, (b) the statement is false, and (c) the statement tends to harm your spouse’s reputation and to lower your spouse in the estimation of the community. The fact that you are making these statements in the context of a divorce does not relieve you of a potential legal claim by your spouse. 
  2. It may be used to claim you are not being honest about your income, assets, or expenses. Hence, the danger of posting photos/information about vacations, expensive purchases and promotions, which may cause increased demands for property, spousal maintenance, and child support. 
  3. It may be used to undercut your fitness concerning your parental rights in a custody or parenting time case. Many parents seek joint legal and joint physical custody or substantial parenting time in a divorce. If you want joint custody or substantial parenting time, the court considers the best interest of your child in making decisions. A parent who denigrates the other parent or makes baseless accusations about the other parent negatively impacts their ability to show the court they can be a responsible co-parent.

In sum, the best way to minimize these downsides is to just stay away from social media, particularly if a proceeding is pending, or if divorce is likely.  The same pitfalls also applies to text messages, emails and other similar communications.

Take away:  Be wary of your social media use and its potential long-term pitfalls in divorce.    Kathleen M. Newman of the DeWitt LLP Law Firm is skilled at guiding clients through divorces and helping them avoid pitfalls. Please contact us for an appointment if you’re considering divorce or are party to one.

Sources:
“Family Law: Social Media Evidence in Divorce Cases,” The National Law Review (February 14, 2019).
“Here's How Social Media Can Be Used Against You in Court,” Forbes (December 30, 2018).

About the Author

With extensive experience in all aspects of marital dissolutions, Kathleen M. Newman has handled many complex divorces, including cases with closely held business interests, professional practices and high net worth cases. Her clients appreciate her listening skills and quick assessment of complex issues. She helps her clients organize a strategy to accomplish their goals in resolving the issues in their divorces.

She can be reached by email at kmn@dewittllp.com or by phone at 612-305-1400.

 

 

 

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