Social Media has become a major part of our society, and while the use of it can keep you connected with friends and family in a meaningful way even when separated by significant physical distance, it can also complicate your divorce and legal case in big ways. A common question we receive from our clients is whether social media shares can be used as evidence in their divorce proceeding. The short answer? Yes.
Your social media profile, photos, posts, and status updates can all be used as evidence in an evidentiary hearing. Whether you’re online friends with your spouse or have air-tight privacy settings on your social media profiles, everything you post could be called to question. There are a few important ways that social media can be used as evidence:
- Determining Child Custody and Parenting Time: In a divorce case involving child custody matters, information shared online can be used to prove parenting capabilities or missteps. Avoid sharing anything that could be construed unfit parenting, such as drug or alcohol use or other dangerous, risky behavior. Also avoid sharing anything that could be found as insulting or disparaging to the other parent.
- Determining Child Support or Alimony: During child support or spousal maintenance negotiations, social media posts can be used to prove one spouse to be liable for paying support, or unqualified to receive it. Photographs and/or discussions of new cars or homes, luxurious vacations, and other expensive purchases are all examples of information found online that can be used against someone in court in order to show that the income available to them for support may be more than what they have stated. By that same token, photographs and shares regarding hikes or other travel activities, gym work, and other physical activities can backfire and be used against a spouse claiming a need for financial support related to disability.
- Proof of infidelity: In some cases, social media can be used to prove infidelity on the part of one or more parties. Although Arizona is a “no fault” divorce state, infidelity and the involvement with another person can still have significant effects on the outcome of a case, particularly if there has been waste of community monies or assets in carrying on the affair or if the new boyfriend/girlfriend is going to be a significant presence during that parent’s time with the children.
As a general rule, it’s wise to avoid sharing any personal or sensitive information online; this holds especially true during a divorce. To learn how you can work toward a successful outcome in your divorce, contact the attorneys at OWENS & PERKINS by clicking here or by calling our office at 480.630.2464 to schedule your FREE 30 minute consultation.