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What people preparing for divorce need to know about social media

On Behalf of | Jul 27, 2023 | Family Law |

At its best, social media makes people feel connected to each other. It gives them a platform so that they feel understood by their communities and less alone. At its worst, social media allows for the rapid proliferation of misinformation, dog piling and bullying.

Most adults have some understanding of the fact that what they post on social media could result in unintended consequences in a broader sense. Unfortunately, people often fail to understand how their online behavior can have real-world implications for their divorce proceedings more specifically. As a result, there are a few things that those preparing for divorce need to know about social media.

Anything someone says online could end up as evidence in court

People sometimes share things publicly that make them look like a bad spouse or a volatile person. Other individuals have strict privacy settings that they believe protect them. What social media users often don’t realize is that the companies supporting those platforms retain records of everything, even private messages and deleted content.

In the event of a formal discovery request through the family courts, the attorney of either spouse could potentially secure the full social media transcripts of the other, which could potentially yield a host of evidence. Many people choose to only rely on what is publicly available in the hopes of avoiding an expensive and lengthy discovery process which could very well also lead to damaging evidence that their spouse could use against them. In general, people usually need to treat everything they say and do online as content that could end up used in a courtroom later.

There is no privacy online

As previously noted, privacy settings do not preclude the other spouse from obtaining messages, posts, content or other social media activity. In some cases, one spouse already has a treasure trove of easily-accessible social media evidence, like public posts, that help build their claims of spousal misconduct or drug addiction. Other times, people may simply forgo a social media review and focus on negotiating uncontested divorce terms to maintain as much control as possible over the eventual outcome of their divorce.

Understanding how social media can influence the outcome of a divorce may help people make better decisions about digital socialization when they begin contemplating the end of their marriage.