If you’re in the middle of a custody battle and you just posted an angry status bashing your ex about how they are a terrible parent and neglect your children, be prepared to explain it in the courtroom.
Social media has engraved our daily lives in a way that we become zombie-like creatures while reading status update after status update thus becoming slaves to the flicking of our fingers while searching for meaningful content to absorb. Most social media connoisseurs are reluctant to admit this, but for the most part, when posts of personal drama appear, one can’t help themselves to read, view, or click on the post see what the ‘#tea’ is.
Parties going through a divorce should be aware that the process may leave them susceptible to the Court to make their social media account public record. Some may ask, “why does that matter if my social media account is already public?” Touché, Mon Cheri.
For illustration purposes, let me present you with this fictitious scenario.
Kate and Justin have been married for 12 years, high school sweethearts, and are currently fighting so much that they are contemplating divorce. As of now, Justin is staying with a friend and Kate is in the marital home with their 4-year-old daughter Evelyn. Justin works as a computer programmer, and Kate works as a nurse. Justin has been drinking a lot lately to deal with the stress and Kate has been openly sharing everything that is happening on her social media page.
In general, social media posts, concerning the parties, are relevant in family law dissolution or legal separation cases when. However, like every statute, there are exceptions. In this case, the court may interpret illegal in many forms, but when domestic violence or the health and safety welfare to children are present, Judges are inclined to obtain necessary records to determine to prevent future harm.
Three months after Justin has been staying with a friend, Kate filed a petition with the court for child support and the court awarded $800 a month. Justin hasn’t been making his child support payments, and Kate lets everyone know on social media. She notifies the court that instead of making his financial obligations to Evelyn, he decided to go to Lake Tahoe to snowboard with his friends based on his Instagram posts.
How Posts Can Turn Into Evidence?
Each post, regardless of which social media platform, has an electronic timestamp. This feature allows any person or the court to review time based locations when determining allegations of a person’s whereabouts. What if you blocked your ex? In some cases, the court may grant access to your posts when used for investigative purposes concerning your matter. The subtle public brags of your ex-show can prove their vacations were taken instead of making payments for spousal or child support or even particular behaviors that may build up or break down a divorce or custody battle exposure to the court.
CALIFORNIA EVIDENCE CODE
EVIDENCE AFFECTED OR EXCLUDED BY EXTRINSIC POLICIES
Evidence Code Section 1152
(a) Evidence that a person has, in compromise or from humanitarian motives, furnished or offered or promised to furnish money or any other thing, act, or service to another who has sustained or will sustain or claims that he or she has sustained or will sustain loss or damage, as well as any conduct or statements made in negotiation thereof, is inadmissible to prove his or her liability for the loss or damage or any part of it.
(b) In the event that evidence of an offer to compromise is admitted in an action for breach of the covenant of good faith and fair dealing or violation of subdivision (h) of Section 790.03 of the Insurance Code, then at the request of the party against whom the evidence is admitted, or at the request of the party who made the offer to compromise that was admitted, evidence relating to any other offer or counteroffer to compromise the same or substantially the same claimed loss or damage shall also be admissible for the same purpose as the initial evidence regarding settlement. Other than as may be admitted in an action for breach of the covenant of good faith and fair dealing or violation of subdivision (h) of Section 790.03 of the Insurance Code, evidence of settlement offers shall not be admitted in a motion for a new trial, in any proceeding involving an additur or remittitur, or on appeal.
(c) This section does not affect the admissibility of evidence of any of the following:
(1) Partial satisfaction of an asserted claim or demand without questioning its validity when such evidence is offered to prove the validity of the claim.
(2) A debtor’s payment or promise to pay all or a part of his or her preexisting debt when such evidence is offered to prove the creation of a new duty on his or her part or a revival of his or her preexisting duty.
How Can Someone Avoid The Social Media Pitfall?
The most effective method is to become radio silent. That means to log out of social media and stay off of it until your divorce is complete and even a while afterwards. Here are a few suggestions to avoid the damaging effects of a post:
- Blocking people. Block your ex, block their family, block mutual friends. Block. Block. Block.
- Be civil with each other by refraining from insults directed at each other.
- Remove geo-tags from posts and pictures.
- Be wary of “private” messages as they can be used against you if they were to surfac somehow. Possibly from a mutual friend/family member forwarding them to your ex.
- Seek advice from your lawyer. They are your best resource for this.
What is should for Kate or Justin to do?
Each party should seek the legal counsel of a family law practitioner.
How can Gale, Angelo, Johnson, & Patrick family law attorneys help you? Our attorneys can guide you through the trouble relating to social media accounts. They can provide you with insight with every aspect of your divorce process and perform the aggressive negotiations with the other party (or opposing counsel) so you won’t have to.
Do you have a horrific story about how social media affected your divorce or child custody? We would love to hear about it.
Disclaimer: The information in this blog post (“post”) is provided for general informational purposes only, and may not reflect the current law in your jurisdiction. No information contained in this post should be construed as legal advice from GAJP Law P.C., or the individual author, nor is it intended to be a substitute for legal counsel on any subject matter. No reader of this post should act or refrain from acting on the basis of any information included in, or accessible through, this Post without seeking the appropriate legal or other professional advice on the particular facts and circumstances at issue from a lawyer licensed in the recipient’s state, country or other appropriate licensing jurisdiction. Facebook and divorce, he posted a hateful thing about me on facebook, can someone facebook post damaging things about me, social media and divorce, social media and child support, can he post on social media and not pay me, can she post on social media, social media and court, social media as evidence, facebook and evidence, facebook and roseville, facebook and roseville family law firm, family law social media, family law facebook book, family law roseville, family law sacramento, family law sf, instagram posts family law
My sister is in a legal battle with her ex-husband about child custody and they need to get it figured out. She asked me for advice so I’ll share your article with her so she knows to be careful on social media. I think she should immediately follow your tip and remove the geotags from her recent posts.