When you are going through a divorce, it can be tempting to vent on social media, especially if you believe it to be safe from public view. However, it is still possible in most cases for your spouse’s attorney to use any ill-timed or ill-conceived social media post against you. If you are not careful, poorly timed social media posts can cost you money or even parenting time with your children. It is imperative to understand your rights and responsibilities in this area.
What Constitutes Social Media?
There is a pervasive misconception that only networks like Facebook and Twitter count as social media during of divorce. In reality, the designation also includes text messages, e-mails and anything of that nature that is intended to be shared via technology with another person or people. Media sent from a cell phone counts just as much as that viewed or sent from a computer, and many are unaware that these types of communication fall under the umbrella of social media.
Text messages, in particular, are extremely common evidence in divorce proceedings. The American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (AAML) survey from 2015 shows that an enormous 97 percent of its members have seen a marked increase in the use of text message evidence in divorce cases. Texts and e-mails have also become much more accessible than they used to be in years past, with phone and data companies having the technology to be able to provide all messages to and from a given number, if and when they are subpoenaed to do so.
Admissions and Inferences
The other major fallacy often seen in discussions of social media evidence is the idea that only overt references to misdeeds or negative behavior on social media can be used against an individual during a divorce proceeding. This is inaccurate, simply because inferences and logical reasoning will likely find their way into the record whether they are explicit or implicit. If you post frequent pictures of yourself in an intoxicated state, appearing to engage in risky behavior, it does not matter whether you present yourself as a good parent otherwise; the perception created by those pictures can be held against you.
Deleting embarrassing or awkward posts may also get you in trouble with the court. Under Illinois Supreme Court Rule 219, you may face consequences for what is referred to as spoliation of evidence if you delete items from your social media. This is because in divorce cases—especially those involving parenting time questions—the character and fitness of both spouses is important. Deleting potentially embarrassing items from social media shows both poor judgment and a possible inclination toward or untruthfulness. As a result, the court could assume that you are naturally deceitful, which could adversely affect asset distribution and parenting time in certain circumstances.
Seek Experienced Legal Help
While nearly everyone uses some type of social media, it can be detrimental to your future if it is used irresponsibly. If you have questions about the role of social media in divorce cases, contact a knowledgeable Kane County divorce attorney for answers. Call 630-945-8807 or 847-426-1866 for a confidential consultation at Pucci | Pirtle today.