In spite of an increasing number of headlines involving people whose social media use has endangered their lawsuits, Americans continue to post incriminating information on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social networks. In fact, according to the Pew Research Center, as of September 2013, 73% of adults online in America use social networks. Unfortunately a feature of social networking is its ease; because it’s so easy to connect with others, most people don’t think very carefully before they post or tweet. A Maryland divorce, alimony, child custody and divorce battles can be put in jeopardy by the information your soon-to-be-ex-spouse or a family law attorney finds about your on Twitter.
In the past, couples would hire private detectives to find out whether their spouse had cheated or had other secrets that could result in is getting easier and easier to catch litigants in lies. Often this is no longer necessary because people willingly share information that can damage them on social media.
If you are going through a divorce, you should either close your social media accounts or simply take a break from them. Privacy filters are unlikely to be of much help in a divorce case. One reason for this is that couples share a lot of common friends. It is very easy to think that you have gotten “custody” of a particular friend and be wrong. A friend may casually mention something to your spouse not knowing it is information that will hurt you.
For example, if you are trying not to pay significant amounts in alimony, it will undercut your argument for your spouse to learn that you are going on vacation in Tahiti or buying your new significant other expensive jewelry or holding an expensive dinner at a five star restaurant. Even if you don’t post photographs or check into restaurants yourself, your new significant other or friends might post or check you in. These are common types of things to share on Facebook.
The nature of social networks is to encourage people to keep tabs on their friends and their friends-of-friends. Your spouse is most likely still in your Facebook social network, for example, even if you’ve stopped being “friends.” If you post about excessive drinking, drug use or any other action that could be interpreted as a sign you may not be a responsible adult, this information may be used against you in a custody battle. If you lie to your former spouse and say you have to work when actually you are at a work-related happy hour, a co-worker who takes a photograph may “tag you” if you have a social media account. Your spouse can use any or all of the posts to which she has access to claim you don’t act in the best interest of your children.
Similarly, you should not post any criticism of your spouse or complaints about your divorce proceedings online. This information taken out of context could be used to hurt you in divorce mediation.
If you are dealing with difficult and sensitive divorce issues, contact an experienced Maryland family law attorney for representation. Our office may be able to help you through this difficult time.
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