Social media can make life easier. You’re able to quickly share photos with your long-distance family, coordinate a group outing without making phone calls and quickly find out about local events.
However, the ease of posting and commenting can be a double-edged sword.
It’s natural to vent to friends in the middle of a breakup. Recently, more people vent by posting on social media in the hopes that an ex would miss you or get a glance of your “new and improved” life.
So, what does the law have to do with social media? Trends in family law show that what you post on your Facebook or other social networks could come back to haunt you, as more and more often social media posts are being used as evidence in the courtroom.
Social Media Has Dramatically Changed Family Law
In family law during the pre-digital age, attorneys had to hire a private investigator or seek verbal testimony from a friend or other third party to bring evidence against a spouse in divorce or custody proceedings.
Now, almost anyone can gain access to your friends list, your photos, and the comments you leave on social posts. Even if you have un-friended or blocked someone, it is common for couples to have mutual friends who still have access to your posts. With the rise of digital communication, it has become easier to document an individual’s location, obtain written record or gain access to media evidence.
And it doesn’t always have to be related to your family – even an innocent photo posted at a work happy hour can bring into question substance abuse or financial standing.
Just by Googling “social media family law”, you’ll find hundreds of examples of how a quick post can be the turning point in a divorce or custody hearing.
Preventing Social Media From Negatively Impacting Your Case
Even though “the internet is forever,” there are some practical steps you can take to keep social media from wrecking your family law case.
To start, many legal experts around the country advise that you take extra precaution with social media while your case is open. Please keep in mind that no attorney can ethical advise a person to destroy evidence (this includes social media posts). With this in mind, also know that there are steps you can take to protect yourself.
- Just Don’t Do It. If you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all. This means that if you would not want the judge seeing it, don’t post it.
- Give It a Break. Take a break from social media. You can easily deactivate your accounts during the proceedings.
- Lock it Down. If you cannot step away from social media, you need to ensure you know who is seeing your information. In this scenario, legal experts recommend you take the following steps:
- Update privacy settings
- Change your password
- Edit your friends list
- Require pre-approval before other individuals tag you in posts or pictures
- Limit posts and comments
- Be open and honest with your attorney about past posts/photos shared
The last piece of advice is key. Go over any privacy concerns relating to social media accounts with your lawyer to identify any potential problems.
Be Proactive! And Get Attorneys Who Are Too
Attorneys, like those at Marler Law Partners, will look at the whole picture to make sure we can represent your case at every turn. We strategize for long-term repercussions and will tailor our services to support your needs.
We have already witnessed the impacts social media can have on family law proceedings in St. Louis and Southeast Missouri courts. We partner with our Clients to take every possible step to avoid letting seemingly innocent Facebook posts affect the most important things in your life.