This day and age, social networking not only can contribute to the breakup of a marriage, but can also have unforeseen consequences in divorce settlement negotiations. Four out of five lawyers use evidence in divorce cases that is derived from social networking sites, with Facebook being the leader, according to a 2010 survey by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (AAML). Couples who are splitting up must now be extremely mindful and filter the information and pictures that are posted to their various social media accounts. If you are facing a divorce and have concerns regarding the effects of social networking, call Twyford Law Office at (509) 327-0777 for a free consultation with a divorce attorney.
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Our firm has the combined experience of more than 40 years managing all types of family law matters, including highly contested divorce cases involving social networking.
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How Social Media Can Impact Divorce
Social networking sites are great for staying in connection with family and friends. However, the temptation to share information regarding leaving a spouse in hopes of receiving support from loved ones can, unfortunately, impact a divorce in the following ways:
Finances – Social media posts can be evidence of income by showing how time and/or money is being spent. For example, posts from a spouse who took an extravagant vacation, was hired in a new job, or purchased a new vehicle can be used against them in court, especially in the event that they are claiming to have low income or no job at all. Any clues about the financial well-being of a spouse that doesn’t match their reported income can be evidence of non-disclosure, which may lead a spouse to suspect a hidden bank account or a new raise in salary. A soon-to-be former spouse may no longer have access to the social media accounts or profiles of their partner, but they may have a mutual friend to whom they are visible.
Dating Sites – Creating an online dating profile while separated and prior to a divorce can be detrimental in fault-based states, however, in Washington it is not. State law allows no-fault based divorce, which means no reason (grounds) is required to be given for a divorce. Therefore evidence of misconduct will not be heard by a judge in a Washington divorce case, and each spouse is entitled to half of all assets. Although, similarly to other social media networking, a divorcing spouse could be implicated if caught saying something different than what they have disclosed to the court.
Child Custody – Any evidence on social networking sites that can be used by a parent to prove their ex-spouse is irresponsibly caring for their children may lead a Washington court to limit that spouse’s time with their children. Custody can be affected by any behavior that is not in the best interest of a child. For example, a mother or father who is supposed to be watching their children but there are posted photos showing they are drunk.
How to Avoid Social Networking Mistakes
There are a number of ways to avoid social networking pitfalls during divorce, including:
Altogether stopping social networking.
Making all accounts private, although posts still may be accessible to a spouse.
Blocking your former spouse and mutual friends.
Remaining civil and not speaking of your divorce online.
Turning off geo-tags and check-ins.
Don’t use direct or private messaging, unless the content is safe to be shown to the public.
Delete anything that could reflect poorly on you, unless litigation has already begun. Once litigation begins, deleting accounts can be considered destruction of evidence.
Every case is unique, which is why speaking with a divorce lawyer is highly advised, so they may give you specific guidance on the use of social networking during your divorce.
Contact a Social Media and Divorce Attorney
We can help with every aspect of your divorce case, including protecting you from the negative effects of social networking. We will negotiate a settlement that works for you and a custody arrangement that works for your children. Call (509) 327-0777 or contact us online to learn more in a free initial consultation.