Be Careful on Social Media

In my last blog, the three of us take turns; I talked about how it is possible to learn a lot about opposing parties in divorce cases by using social media. It is a dilemma for us and our clients as to how much time and effort (i.e. attorney fees) to use in cases researching social media. We try to have a discussion with our clients regarding the pros and cons of investing time in that issue. The flip side of that question is what social media content says about our clients.

First of all, common sense would dictate that you should be careful about what items are posted on social media. While a college aged person may think it is hilarious to put to post a picture of them on Facebook while intoxicated, I think most people would agree it is a bad idea. It is a bad idea for college kids because college kids eventually apply for jobs and more and more employers are viewing sites such as Facebook. However, even adults are tempted sometimes to make bad choices as to what they post. Overall, it is a bad idea to post questionable photos and information which could reflect poorly on your character or decision-making, but it is particularly unwise if you are contemplating a divorce or involved in a divorce.

It is very clear that if you are considering a divorce, or are in a divorce, to be careful what you post and to the extent possible control what your friends and family post. Once the item is posted you should not take it down. While it would seem like a good idea if you are looking at a divorce to remove all of the incriminating or questionable postings you can find, but virtually any post on social media, particularly those which someone may be tempted to remove, could potentially be relevant to litigation or used as evidence. There are laws and rules against destruction or spoliation of evidence. There are many court cases which involve tampering with evidence where the judge ruled that the tampering was held against the party making the alteration in evidence. The same logic applies to social media sites. While the law is having a difficult time keeping up with social media and its use in the courts, you should not, as a potential divorce client, start removing items. It would seem like a good idea to “cleanup” Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter etc. but you are asking for trouble if you do.

The bottom line, cleverly placed at the bottom, is be careful what you post.