It is hard to imagine a world without social media, yet these sites have only been around for approximately a decade. There is no debate over how quickly sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram have become a crucial part of society, with many users posting much information about their lives on a daily basis. Scroll down any site’s news feed and you will likely find an abundance of information regarding your family, friends, coworkers, and acquaintances’ personal lives—the good, the bad, and the ugly. But can posting all this personal information have an effect on the outcome of a couple’s divorce and/or child custody case?
Many family law attorneys will instruct their clients to carefully limit what they post to their social media sites and may even instruct the client to stay off of these sites completely until their divorce case is settled. On the other side of the coin, attorneys also use these sites to gather evidence against the other spouse and even innocent postings can be used to cause serious damage to the other side’s case.
It is not uncommon for a person’s social media to be used to call their parenting abilities into question. For example, a person who is a very good parent, completely involved and responsible in his or her child’s life, goes out with friends one night, something which is a rare occasion for that individual. A photo of the group of friends out and having a good time at a nightclub, toasting each other, ends up on Facebook. Suddenly, that photo is being introduced as evidence in a child custody battle as a way to show the person is an irresponsible parent who drinks too much. Unfortunately, there is no way to predict whether the judge who decides that custody believes the old saying, “A picture is worth a thousand words.”
Pictures like the one described above can also be used by the other side to accuse the person of being involved in extramarital affairs or inappropriate behavior, calling the person’s character into question. Innocent banter between friends on a social media post can be used in the same way. Although Illinois does not require grounds for divorce, these types of accusations can be used as leverage during child custody or property and asset division negotiations.
And speaking of property negotiations, social media can also be used to try to prove unreported income or other assets. During the divorce process, each side is required to provide a full disclosure of all assets. If a spouse who has claimed a limited income suddenly starts posting photos or status comments that portray otherwise, the other spouse’s attorney could use that type of information as evidence that he or she is hiding assets.
If you are considering filing for divorce, there are several important steps—besides watching your social media postings—that you may want to take. A seasoned DuPage County divorce attorney can explain what you will need to prepare. Call Roscich & Martel Law Firm, LLC at (630) 793-6337 to schedule your confidential consultation today.