Since Facebook turned our world sideways, multiple studies have revealed that social media use can hurt marriages and families. Most recently, a 2015 study by a UK law firm revealed one in seven adults contemplated divorce due to a spouse’s social media behavior. According to Connatser Family Law Attorney Aubrey Connatser, what you reveal on social media can also work against you in family court.
“Social media evidence is prevalent in family courts today. I see it in nearly every case I handle. Whether it’s an inappropriate Facebook post, a positive posting that proves where a client was and when, or a third-party photo or video the unwitting subject would rather keep private, social media almost always plays a role,” Aubrey says.
Aubrey cautions clients to understand the risks social media poses for couples facing divorce (and their kids). She says, “If you aren’t diligent about how you behave in public and controlling what you share and who can see it (and share it) on social media, your life is an open book.”
Getting Divorced? Your Spouse’s Divorce Attorney Is Watching
If you are going through a divorce and/or custody dispute, Aubrey strongly recommends you privatize your social media accounts and only post positive content when you do share. Just assume your spouse’s attorney is looking at your social pages and keeping tabs on you.
“We monitor opposing parties Facebook and other social pages, and it’s not uncommon for a friend of an opposing party’s friend to be someone we know. While you can’t take down your social pages, you can maximize your security settings, stop posting and ask ‘friends’ not to post anything about you or your family,” Aubrey says.
Talk with Kids About What They Should and Shouldn’t Share
According to Aubrey, “It isn’t uncommon in custody cases for one parent to allow a child to skip school (some even call in sick for their kids), then the child posts photos while hanging out at the mall in the middle of a school day. Posts like these could jeopardize that parent’s odds of being awarded primary custody. Make sure your kids understand that what they post may have consequences.”
Parents also need to be careful that they don’t reveal too many personal details about their children on social sites, because they could put a child at risk for identity theft. A Kansas police department singled out a Mothers Day Facebook scam for this very reason.
Read more Social Media Dos and Don’ts from Aubrey in this earlier post.
Beware of Third-Parties with Smartphones
The world is getting smaller every day, and people post photos and videos everywhere (Facebook, Twitter, Vine, Snapchat, Instagram, YouTube, on blogs, etc.). Now, formerly private moments are regularly shared with the world by people the subjects don’t even know.
“Most people are smart enough not to post inappropriate photos or videos of themselves, but you never know when someone else is watching you or videotaping you with a smartphone.
You don’t want to end up in a viral video after losing your temper at Neiman Marcus or get caught in the background of a stranger’s birthday party photos with a lover you were trying to keep secret. If you’re in the middle of a divorce or custody dispute, ALWAYS be on your best behavior in public and private,” Aubrey says.
Don’t Take Social Media Lightly, and Just Behave
What may seem like an innocent post could reflect poorly on you as a parent or spouse. Your actions could even embarrass your kids, who don’t need additional stress in their lives, especially during a divorce. Aubrey recommends, “Always think twice before sharing or losing your composure in public. You never know who might be watching.”