Social media has become a major influence in most people’s daily lives in the U.S. As a result, many people know that social media can affect someone’s closest relationships, including marriages. Numerous studies now suggest that frequent use of social media has a strong association with declining relationship satisfaction and sometimes also correlates to adultery.
Those preparing for divorce should be aware that social media can both help and harm them as they start preparing to negotiate with their spouse or present their case in family court.
How social media can help someone’s case
Social media can be a treasure trove of evidence. What someone says on their own profile and the messages that they send to others can influence everything from property division to custody matters in some cases. Legal experts estimate that in roughly 80% of divorce cases, there is some kind of useful evidence to be found on social media.
Proof that someone has wasted marital resources or conducted an adulterous affair can have an impact on property division and other aspects and someone’s divorce proceedings. What someone shares publicly is often the easiest information to collect, but records of their private messages and even what they post in secret groups on different platforms could help prove this conduct or establish their character during the divorce.
How social media can hurt someone’s case
In many divorces, both spouses have done something that is either inappropriate or that may seem inappropriate to an outside observer who lacks context. What someone says and does online can potentially impact their divorce proceedings just as easily as what their spouse says could. The misuse of social media could even lead to defamation accusations if someone publicly makes statements about their spouse online.
Additionally, deciding to use social media as a source of evidence during divorce can make the process take longer and cost more for both spouses. If someone insists on having discovery access to their spouse’s social media records, that could very well mean pages upon pages of documents to review, which can drastically increase the expense involved in divorce proceedings.
Many people choose to take the middle road by making use of public information or details that others have shared with them without demanding access to everything. The seriousness of the evidence available from a spouse’s social media pages and the likelihood of someone implicating themselves or harming their position with their own social media use can influence the strategy that they employ in their divorce.
Being aware of how social media can impact divorce proceedings and seeking legal guidance when questions arise may help people make more thoughtful choices as they prepare for the legal side of their divorce.