Social Media & Family Law Cases
How Can Social Media Impact Your Family Law Case?
It’s important to be aware of the many ways that your actions and decisions can affect your divorce case. If you or a loved one are going through a divorce, child custody battle, or any other type of family law case, writing posts about your case on social media could impact the outcome of the case.
In today’s modern world, social media is becoming an increasingly integrated part of our lives. Studies attest that about 65% of adults with access to the Internet use social media platforms. For those under the age of 30, the number is even higher: Somewhere around 89%! It can sometimes be difficult to remember that the thoughts and opinions we express on platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, Instagram, YouTube, and personal blogs are not always so personal. These sites and platforms aren’t like a private diary; they are public and can be assessed by others. Stating personal opinions or commentary online is dangerous and can damage your case.
The truth is, family law attorneys have used social media for evidence in the past. Even with stringent privacy settings, your children or other family members could have access to a damaging Facebook rant or words written in the heat of a moment in an Instagram comment. Your spouse / child’s parent or one of his / her friends could also see the post and send it to him / her. Posts regarding big spending could impact your property division. Even photos you were tagged in from a work event that involved alcohol could be interpreted in a less-than-positive light in a court case. It’s important to be aware of this aspect of your case and to know how to protect yourself and your interests.
How to Protect Yourself Online
Here are a few basic tips that you may want to consider in order to protect yourself during a family law case:
· Pare down your friends list to people you know and trust
· Change passwords to your smartphone, laptop, tablets, and social media and email accounts
· Ensure that your privacy settings are highly secure and keep your accounts as private as possible; but still, remember that nothing on the Internet is completely private
· Consider taking a break from social media until the trial is over by freezing or temporarily shutting down your accounts until then
Before posting something you might regret, it’s a good idea to take a step back. What is your motivation for sharing that post, status, or comment? The reason may be a desire to express yourself, when you are caught in a situation where you feel you have no voice. Or you may be acting on the natural and very human impulse to share what you are going through with your loved ones. There is nothing wrong with these desires. It’s merely important to realize that for your own sake and your family’s, social media could be a less than ideal avenue. It may be a good idea to find other ways to seek those outlets.
For example, writing can be a very therapeutic and cathartic exercise, and with everything you have going on in your life, finding a way to process your emotions and to vent may be helpful. Instead of typing up a quick, heated status about your ex-spouse or the difficulties you’re facing in your court case, think about what you want to say. Consider writing it by hand in a journal, which may give you more time to process and think things through.
Another reason many of us feel compelled to share on Facebook or other social media platforms when we’re stressed, sad, or angry is out of a simple desire to receive support and to feel that sense of community and care. Social media provides us with a quick way to reach out—to let others know we need help, to feel heard, and to receive support and encouragement. But instead of sharing in a broad sense where you have little to no control over who sees what you write, reach out to your close friends and family members—whether it’s one person or several—who you trust and who can support you directly during this tough time. It can be easier to write a status than it is to pick up the phone and ask a loved one for help, but ultimately, the second option is much safer—and much more rewarding.
Finally, if you can, consider going to a therapist for help processing all of the changes and stressful events going on in your life right now. As you begin a new chapter of your life, it is important to realize that you are no doubt being impacted in many ways—perhaps some you yourself do not even realize. Taking time to care for your mental and emotional health is vital during this time. Then you will be in the best position to move forward once your case is through.