Evidence obtained through social networking websites can be highly relevant in all types of family law cases, especially divorce, custody, and spousal support. These are some things you should review with your clients about posting comments and photos on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social networking sites.
There are more than one billion users on Facebook. That means there are lots of people who have the potential to read what you post. Posting with caution is necessary for anyone going through a divorce. Especially in highly litigated custody disputes, clients need to either be very careful in postings made on social networking sites or to simply delete their accounts altogether.
For example, clients may think if you limit the settings, their soon-to-be ex won’t see what they wrote. But far too often their ex’s friends or cousins saw the post and potentially even saved or printed it. Even after your clients come to their senses and delete it, your opposition may already have a copy. Clients should also stay aware of what other people are posting to their pages and feeds.
Sometimes all it takes is one mishap evidenced in a tagged Facebook post to send your custody case into a tailspin. When it comes to posting on social media sites, it is important to advise your clients to think before posting. Perception is reality and if their posts can be taken out of context, advise them not to post them.
If your client has been posting negatively about someone or something, even after deletion, there is still risk of the content surfacing. Any good researcher can find something online if they know what they are looking for. Be sure to ask your client up front if they have been slandering the other party online. Ensure your client knows that it is always better that you as you lawyer is aware of what is out there first, no matter how embarrassing it may be.
Many times the other side will troll social media photos searching for non-ideal behaviors. In custody cases, an attorney can argue the other parent is unfit to be the primary caretaker of young children, based on photos found on social media sites.
Further, in financial matters or spousal support, opposing attorneys can use social media posts to prove the standard of living is not being accurately documented and other issues.
As people share more and more on social media, it is becoming increasingly important to consider the ramifications of posts in your divorce case and advise your clients to exercise restraint in their social media posting during their divorce.
John Griffith is a partner at Griffith, Young & Lass Family Law, offering assistance and representation that guides their clients through the legal process and helps protect them and their families.