Can Facebook posts be used as evidence in a divorce proceeding?
When someone gets arrested, the police are required to read the Miranda Warnings: “you have a right to remain silent, anything you say can be used against you in court…” When it comes to divorce, the same can be said of social media: anything you post on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram can be used as evidence in a divorce proceeding.
Today, many adults who engage in various forms of social media networking may be unaware that posted pictures and comments are often used in divorce cases to question a spouse’s credibility. Even if privacy settings are in place to prevent views by the public, nothing posted online is completely private and can easily be subpoenaed. In fact, careless and reckless posts often provide evidence that results in unfavorable court rulings, particularly regarding matters such as child custody and child support.
For example, a parent who claims to not have enough income to pay a child support order, but posts pictures of a luxury purchase or an expensive vacation, runs the risk of an adverse ruling by the Family Court. Similarly, pictures posted on Facebook of a parent behaving inappropriately around children could lead to an unfavorable child custody ruling. In short, social media posts are admissible evidence, provided they were not obtained illegally, and can be considered by the court when making its rulings.
Obviously, the best way to minimize these risks is to be cautious when posting on social media, and never post anything that might show illegal or improper behavior. In short the rule of thumb is this: when in doubt, don’t post. A moment of instant gratification by posting a derogatory comment or an ill advised selfie can have lost lasting implications in a divorce proceeding.
Why This Matters
In the end, it is important to remember that a divorce typically involves difficult and deeply personal matters. For this reason, it is crucial for anyone to protect his or her privacy. Moreover, uncompromising photos, derogatory comments about a spouse or the judge, or details about the case, should never be posted on social media. While posts can be deleted and accounts deactivated, it is also important not to destroy evidence if a litigation is pending. If you have questions about how your social media activity may affect your case, you should speak to an experienced divorce attorney.