Social media networks and digital communication have undoubtedly, and perhaps irrevocably, altered 21st century relationships. Couples that have found love through social media (and there are many) can become, years later, the same couples who broadcast every aspect of their breakup on, you guessed it, social media.
Spouses who take to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social media networking sites to air their grievances about their ex are often shocked to see their comments resurface in divorce court, usually not in their favor. Evidence that is admissible in court may include pictures, status updates, friend lists, instant messages and chat sessions, check-ins (sharing your location), emails, private messages, online dating profiles and joining groups on sites – basically, everything you can do on all your favorite websites. Here are a few ways social media posts, even innocuous ones, can rear their heads in a divorce proceeding.
Social media posts can affect the perception of a party’s finances. Spouses who claim to possess inadequate financial reserves to pay ordered child support or alimony can find themselves in hot water for sharing statuses about expensive purchases on Twitter, or by being in tagged in pictures of luxurious vacations on Facebook.
Social media can affect the custody arrangement in a divorce with children. Divorcing spouses may have alternative views on what types of activities are appropriate for their children or which people they should spend time with on a regular basis. For cases involving child custody or alimony, parties should refrain from publicly posting information about parenting habits and recreational activities that could have a negative influence on a judge. Remember, perception in these cases can be just as important as reality, and not every court will find the same activities, comments, and the like appropriate. Parents should also take into consideration what their children might see on social media, which includes any negative comments concerning one or both parents.
To avoid ramifications, parties should either avoid using social media entirely, or carefully monitor their output. Parties should not post content showing them engaging in questionable behavior or behavior that implies that they are immature or neglectful toward their children. Even at the end of the divorce, spouses should not flaunt a new boyfriend or girlfriend on social media posts, because it can come back to haunt them if their ex attempts to alter any custody agreements.
The team of NYC divorce lawyers at Berkman Bottger Newman & Schein LLP assists clients in all aspects of divorce, including child custody and support, spousal maintenance, and property division, with the goal of helping clients peaceably resolve potentially contentious issues. Please contact Berkman Bottger Newman & Schein LLP at (212) 466-6015 to learn more about our services and approach to family law.