For Better or For Worse: Divorce and Social Media

Social media networks and digital communication have altered 21st-century relationships. Designed as a means of bringing people together, more couples today are contributing to their breakups or divorces by posting nasty comments about each other on social media. Many couples are unaware of the consequences these posts have on divorce settlement negotiations as well.

Spouses who take to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social media networking sites to air their grievances about their ex are shocked to see their comments resurface in divorce court, usually not in their favor. Evidence that is admissible in court may include pictures, status updates, friend lists, instant messages and chat sessions, check-ins (sharing your location), emails, private messages, online dating profiles and joining groups on sites.

Social media can affect your divorce settlement. Spouses who claim inadequate financial resources for child support or alimony find themselves in hot water when sharing posts about expensive purchases on Twitter or if they are in tagged pictures of luxurious vacations on Facebook, for example.

Social media can affect the custody arrangement in a divorce with children. Divorcing spouses may have differing views on what types of activities are appropriate for their children or which people they should spend time with on a regular basis. For cases involving child custody or spousal support, parties should refrain from publicly posting information about parenting habits and recreational activities that could have a negative influence on eligibility. Parents should also take into consideration what their children might see on social media and their exposure to negative comments concerning one or both parents.

Social media can contribute to legal ramifications such as jail time. According to Sun Times Networks, six Gainesville, Georgia residents were recently arrested after police were alerted about a video on the social media app SnapChat showing the users engaged in what appeared to be illegal behavior. SnapChat may release user information on a non-emergency basis if it receives a legal notice that complies with the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) or if it believes in good faith that an emergency, posting a threat of death or serious physical injury to any person, requires the immediate disclosure of information.

Participating in illegal behavior can affect child custody and the court will give more weight to convictions that involve drug and alcohol abuse. If the court is made aware that one of the parents has a prior drug conviction, it will often order you to submit to a hair follicle drug test. Positive drug tests almost certainly preclude joint custody and can likely result in any visitation being supervised.

To avoid ramifications, parties should avoid using social media, or limit the time spent using the networks. Parties should not post content showing them engaging in questionable behavior, for that implies that they are immature or neglectful toward their children or unfit in general. Even at the end of the divorce, spouses should not flaunt a new boyfriend or girlfriend on social media posts. They should ensure that family and friends are not tagging them in posts that are questionable, as they can still be held against them in court.

The team of matrimonial law attorneys at Blodnick, Fazio & Associates knows that going through a divorce is an emotionally difficult time. When there are children and assets involved, the divorce process can become increasingly difficult. The firm handles all aspects of matrimonial and family law litigation, including divorce and child custody issues, alternative dispute resolution, maintenance (alimony), child support, domestic violence issues, separation agreements, property division, pre- and post-nuptial agreements, and modifications of agreement with the goal of helping clients peaceably resolve potentially contentious issues.  Please contact Blodnick, Fazio & Associates, P.C. for a free consultation by calling (516) 280-7105 or visiting www.bfandapc.com.

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