In today’s information age, so much of what we say and do leaves an electronic footprint. For the better part of the past decade, the use of social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and many others has increased exponentially. People use social media for many different purposes, such as to stay in touch with family and friends, let them know what they are up to, express their opinions on various topics, and many others.
Most people are aware that prospective employers typically look at posts from Facebook and other social media sites when they are preparing for a job interview. However, some fail to realize how your social media posts can impact a divorce proceeding. In a contested and contentious divorce, your social media posts are fair game, and they can be used against you.
Can Social Media Hurt my Alimony Case?
When it comes to alimony/spousal support, your social media posts can definitely impact your arguments. This is true whether you are the payor or recipient spouse. Here are just a few ways social media posts can be used against you in your spousal support case:
- Vacation Pictures: The argument over alimony is financial; either the payor spouse is arguing that he/she cannot afford spousal support, or the recipient spouse is arguing that he/she should receive more because of very limited financial means. One of the most common types of social media posts that can blow up this narrative is a picture of a lavish vacation. People love to post pictures of their trips to exotic destinations, fine restaurants they dined out at, days spent at the beach, and related activities. While it may seem fun at the time to share these photos with your best friends, you may have a hard time explaining them later.
One thing to keep in mind about vacation photos; you may get in trouble even if you didn’t post them yourself. For example, if you go on a weekend trip with your friends over to Vegas or Tahoe and stay in a five-star luxury resort, one of your friends may post some photos with you in them and tag you in them so they show up on your timeline.
- Pictures of New Purchases: Another popular social media pastime is to boast about expensive new stuff you just bought, such as a brand-new car or boat. An expensive new purchase may be even more difficult to explain than a trip. Sometimes, you could plausibly say that a friend paid for your trip because you needed some relaxation time while going through your divorce (or something similar). But it is much harder to convince a court that someone bought you a brand-new Lexus or BMW for “therapeutic” purposes.
- Enhanced Profiles: People who are separating or divorcing often go on dating websites to search for someone new. This practice could expose you if you reveal what kind of job you have (especially if you tell your ex you are not working) and/or how well-off you are. Sometimes, this may be an embellishment designed to impress those who see your profile. Regardless of whether it is true or not, if you make yourself out to be better off than you are telling your spouse, this could hurt your alimony case.
Social Media is Discoverable
Many divorcing spouses believe they can delete their social media posts and make the problem go away. Actually, this will most likely make things worse. Social media posts are discoverable in a divorce case and deleting them could be considered destroying evidence. On a related note, do not assume that because you have your privacy settings configured a certain way, your posts will not be uncovered. Whatever you have posted (or been tagged in) online, it is best to assume that it will become evidence in your divorce case.
Protecting Yourself from Social Media Hurting You During a Divorce
If you are in the middle of a divorce or even considering divorce, the best way to deal with social media is to stop doing anything electronically, especially if you are angry, frustrated, or upset at your spouse. This goes for sending text messages as well. Do your best to stay away from all your online accounts until after the divorce is finalized. If you have already posted something you regret, do not delete it. Instead, contact an experienced family law attorney for guidance.
At Garmo and Garmo, our attorneys have several years of experience helping clients handle contentious issues such as alimony/spousal support during a divorce. We work closely with clients, providing skilled legal guidance during this difficult time. We can help mitigate as much as possible the negative impact social media may have on the divorce, and we can help you deal with other complications as well.
For help with alimony/spousal support and all other family law matters, contact our El Cajon office today at 619-441-2500 or send a secure and confidential message through our web contact form.