Many people view their online social media accounts as an extension of themselves, and sometimes without thinking, post information about personal matters that is best left private. Posting about major life events online, and providing all the details, is not necessarily prudent. Divorce is one those areas where information should be kept to a minimum to avoid it affecting the outcome of the case and inflicting unintentional harm on other people, especially children. Emotions tend to run high around the issue of divorce, and those going through it understandably want to vent about frustrations and other unresolved issues. However, posting information about one’s divorce, including why/how the divorce happened, is not a good idea. Unlike relaying information to a trusted friend or family member, things posted online are available for others to see, including the other spouse and his/her attorney. The husband of the R&B singer, Keke Wyatt, recently posted a video on social media explaining his decision to divorce, including remarks about living in a “toxic environment.” While he may have made the statements with no ill intent, one could view his comments as references to behavior that creates an unsafe environment for their children. This example of one possible interpretation of his comments illustrates how online posts have the potential to affect issues like child custody and property division. An exploration of how social media can impact divorce cases, and the most effective method of mitigating this risk, will follow below.
How Social Media Posts Influence Divorce Settlements/Decrees
One crucial point divorcing spouses need to understand about social media is that such information is admissible as evidence in their case. Even if an account is set to private, a court may allow the other party to gain access to posts as part of the discovery process (procedure that permits parties to gather evidence). Thus, using social media during an active divorce should at least involve some thought on how it may be construed. Specifically, if spouses are in a dispute over finances, posts indicating monetary expenditures, such as going out for dinner or attending a show, no matter how innocuous, can be used to argue for a greater share of the marital assets or more alimony. Further, social media can have particularly damaging effects on child custody disputes. Courts look at the best interests of the child when deciding how to divide parental responsibilities, and parties that post negative comments about the child or other parent could be viewed by the court as signaling the parent will not be willing or capable of cooperating on child custody matters. This inference could lead to the court to give the other parent greater decision-making authority and the majority of the parenting time.
Limiting the Impact
As alluded to above, social media should be used sparingly, if at all, while the divorce is pending. While it may be difficult to refrain from using this communication medium, the potential for negative consequences is typically greater than the benefit social media confers. If abstaining is not possible, taking pains to keep posts as neutral as possible is critical to minimizing their impact. An experienced divorce attorney can advise how to handle social media in divorce and other family law matters, which is especially important if negative content is already posted.
Contact a Florida Divorce Attorney
Putting together a divorce case requires more than merely filing certain documents with the court. An experienced divorce attorney can help you gather and present the information you need to get a fair and appropriate result. Tampa Bay’s All Family Law Group, P.A. understands the stresses of divorce, and is available to help you negotiate a settlement, or litigate the case in court, if necessary. Contact the Tampa divorce attorneys and family lawyers at All Family Law Group, P.A. in Tampa Bay at 813-816-2232 for a consultation at no charge or email us.
by Lynette Silon-Laguna Google+