Social media can be an asset or a liability during a divorce
Social media is playing a growing but complicated role in many divorce cases
As a sign of the increasing influence of social media in family law, the Washington Times recently reported that Facebook is now being cited in a third of divorce cases. While the prevalence of social media in divorce may sound surprising, family law experts note that online activities offer an array of possible evidence for either party’s claims in a divorce case. Such evidence can significantly impact a divorce, particularly when a former couple is debating how to divide their property. However, while Facebook can prove to be a big asset during divorce, it can also be a liability, and anyone involved in a divorce needs to be extremely careful with what they post online.
According to Forbes, social media often tends to come up during divorces when ex-spouses have disagreements about dividing marital property. One spouse, for example, may be accused of hiding assets as a way of getting a better deal at the end of the divorce case. Hidden assets make it extremely difficult for a court to properly assess the total value of a couple’s estate, meaning one spouse may be left with far less than he or she deserves.
Social media can reveal contradictions between what an ex-spouse has said in court versus what his or her Facebook profile reveals. For example, an ex-spouse may claim he only makes a modest income and therefore cannot afford the high spousal support payments that the other spouse is asking for. However, that ex-spouse may post photos of his recent beach vacation with a new girlfriend, which could suggest he is making substantially more money than he is telling the court.
While social media can be a valuable tool in revealing the financial deceit of an ex-spouse, the situation works both ways. People may find themselves ordered by a court to hand over access to social media accounts, which makes it extremely important for them to be careful about what they post online.
The issue is also not limited to property division. A night spent celebrating a friend’s birthday may sound innocent enough, but if pictures end up on social media showing alcohol use then those pictures could be used as evidence during a child custody hearing. The other party may argue, whether fairly or not, that the images show that the ex-spouse is not fit to maintain custody of a child.
Divorce often brings up difficult issues, such as property division and child custody, and these issues should be handled by someone with experience in family law. A well-qualified family law attorney can assist people who have questions or concerns about any matter related to their divorce or other related issues.