Why Your Social Media Account Can Be Your Worst Enemy During a Family Law Dispute
Many of us value our privacy rights even as we use social media platforms and programs on a daily basis. Despite warnings from various computer or online experts and stories of individuals who have lost jobs or had their identities stolen through social media, some of us cannot help but post pictures of what adventures we have recently had, what we are thinking about at any given moment, and/or where we are and where we intend on going.
Social media can help us stay connected with others, but its misuse during a divorce or child custody proceeding can cause you serious legal trouble.
Tips for Using Social Media During Your Family Law Case
The best advice for using social media during a divorce or child custody proceeding is this: Don’t. You should assume that anything you post online – whether it is status or relationship updates, photographs, notes, etc. – will somehow make its way to the other party and, eventually, to the court. Rather than risk this happening, the better practice is to simply refrain from using social media until your case is fully resolved.
If you must use social media, follow these guidelines to help reduce the chance of having your social media use work against you and your objectives in your case:
- Review and update your privacy settings: Go back through each of your social media accounts and review the privacy settings for each. Update your passwords if you believe the other party may know your existing passwords. Make sure your privacy settings only allow those whom you know and trust to see your profile and photographs. Consider prohibiting mutual friends of you and the other party from having access to your profile and information.
- Edit, edit, edit: Put a great amount of thought and planning into what you will choose to post to your social media account. That picture of you and your friends at the bar or club the other night may remind you of good times, but the other party or judge may use this to suggest or conclude you pose a risk to your child’s wellbeing – especially if your “night out” happened while your child was supposed to be in your care. Likewise, that post about how nasty or awful the other party is will almost certainly make its way back to him or her and may be construed as an attempt to alienate your child from his or her other parent.
- Inform your family and friends about their need to edit: You need to be concerned with the social media activity of your friends and family as well. It is just as damaging to have your friend post that embarrassing photo of you using marijuana or that video of you stumbling out of the bar because you are drunk to his or her social media account as if you had posted these items to your own account. Stress to your family and friends the necessity of refraining from mentioning you in their posts or posting any photograph or video of you online without your knowledge and permission.
Speak with an Arizona Family Law Attorney About Social Media Use
If you are ever in doubt about whether you can or should post something to your social media account, first speak with your family law attorney. While it may be inconvenient to suspend or restrict your social media use for the duration of your family law case, doing so can increase the chances of achieving a successful outcome in your case.