This includes Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat. Whatever you put on social media, EXPECT it to come into court. Even platforms like snapchat, which are designed to delete after a specific amount of time, can come into court. Whoever you send the message or image to can screen capture the message and have it for later use.
What You Say Online Can Hurt You
Most family law attorneys, myself included, have seen posts and images come into play during a court case that is detrimental to and seriously hurt a client’s case. Your memory may be short but social media's is long and there is nothing quite as damning as your own words read aloud into the court record if they completely contradict what you just testified to.
Post Everything Online As If I Will Be Read Aloud In Court
If you are going through a divorce, custody battle or any type of litigation, anything you post online can be used against you. Just expect that it will be.
Unfriending someone or blocking them is not secure. The Supreme Court of Kentucky has ruled that social media is discoverable and can be used in trials, because users have no real expectation of privacy when they use social media. This online information is particularly relevant in situations regarding children, income and property.
Further, those messages that you thought were secure have a way of making their way through the friend network to your ex. Often you and your ex had some of the same friends. Unfortunately, you can never be sure whose side they are on. All family law attorneys have dealt with cases that involved “friendly spies.”
Some people are surprised when their use of dating sites comes up in court. Your profile and image may completely contradict the full-time devoted parent you are attempting to show the court.
A Picture is Worth 1000 Words
Have you posted pictures from a fun weekend outing, a night on the town, a trip with the boys/girls, or a sexy dating site photo?
These pictures can speak volumes to the court. Any of these seemingly-innocent posts among friends can show up later as electronic red flags used to attempt to prove you an unfit parent and can alter how the court views each parent when it comes to placement of children and visitation.
Best Practices For Social Media
It is not recommended to go through and “clean up” or delete old posts, as that can subject you to sanctions from the court for destruction of evidence.
The best approach regarding social media and your divorce is: Don’t post while you are going through litigation.
Even the most benign post, can be twisted by a good divorce lawyer. So the best thing you can do is DON’T. Social media is not more important than your divorce, and certainly not more important than your children.
If you must post, do so in a way you would feel comfortable reading your posts -- all of them -- aloud to the court, your mother or in church.