A majority of adults in the United States are using social media and a significant number are getting divorced.
New research indicating that approximately 78% of adults use Snapchat, 71% use Instagram, close to half use Twitter, and over two-thirds use Facebook on a regular basis. Meanwhile, about 40 to 50 percent of first time married couples in the United States get divorce, and the numbers are much higher for couples in second and third marriages. With these staggering numbers, it is no surprise that social media use and divorce are intertwined in many aspects.
While social media platforms often play a role in a relationship crumbling and a couple choosing to get divorced, it is also a common practice for divorce and family law attorneys to use information obtained from social media platforms once the couple are already in court.
Posts, photos, and social media records are examples of evidence gleaned from social media platforms that is admissible in divorce court. The information is legally permissible as evidence in court if it was obtained legally. For example, posts with privacy setting set to public enable the general public to view the posts and these are therefore admissible as evidence. Alternatively, if a social media friend or follower legitimately shared a post they are able to view and it was discovered by the other side, this too may be used in court.
A survey conducted by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (AAML) revealed that four out of every five divorce attorney incorporate evidence obtained from Facebook and other social networking platforms into their cases. Inappropriate, negative, incriminating or inflammatory posts and photos that reflect poorly on the partner or which a judge may consider to be objectionable could influence rulings on child custody and parenting time, alimony, division of assets and more, according to Erlich Law Office, LLC.
Since images and posts from social media can have severe ramifications in court, affecting such critical matters as child custody, division of assets and more, attorneys will usually advise their clients to be very prudent and steer clear of venting their emotions and complaints on social media platforms such as Facebook. To limit the potential for damage even further, many divorce attorneys will recommend that their clients either temporarily shut down their social media accounts or highly limit the privacy settings so that posts cannot be viewed and shared other than by a trusted group of close friends and family.
While these measures may sound extreme or unnecessary, in the digital age it only takes one photo or post, discovered by the opposing side, to dramatically change the course of a divorce case, so it is better to be safe than sorry.