Social media activity becoming increasingly influential in AR divorces
Social media is becoming a common source of evidence in divorces, affecting alimony awards, property division and even child custody matters.
Social media has revolutionized the way people in Little Rock and around the country share information and maintain personal relationships. Unfortunately, social media has also had a significant impact on the way couples divorce. Many people don’t realize that the information they choose to reveal online can affect almost every aspect of a divorce settlement.
Easy access to evidence
In 2010, a survey from the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers indicated that social media activity was more frequently being brought into divorces. About four out of five divorce lawyers surveyed by the AAML reported seeing an increase in evidence obtained from social networking sites. As social media has become even more ubiquitous since then, this kind of evidence may be even more common today.
In 2010, Facebook was a common source of evidence; Facebook activity provided primary evidence in 66 percent of cases, according to the AAML survey. Today, other increasingly popular sights, such as Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram, may also provide a wealth of information.
According to the Huffington Post and Forbes, social media activity may affect property division, alimony awards and even child custody and visitation. This is because social media activity can provide evidence of all of the following things:
- Adultery or other similar activities that occurred during the marriage.
- Hidden assets or an exaggeration of expenses and financial need.
- Habits or lifestyle choices that may make one spouse a less fit parent.
Status updates, photographs, location check-ins and comments may all reveal something that a spouse would rather not share in divorce court. Even the social media activity of friends, relatives and the spouse’s own children may provide evidence that ultimately affects the divorce settlement.
Many spouses make the mistake of assuming that they can control their social media presence and keep their online activity private. However, online sharing is often not as secure as people believe. Anyone who has access to posts or private messages can preserve that information and share it later. As long as the information was accessed legitimately, it is admissible as evidence. Private information can also be subpoenaed under certain circumstances.
People preparing for a divorce should remember that they might not be able to control or contain information others post about them. A friend’s status about a night of drinking, a significant other’s post about an expensive new gift or a child’s mention of questionable parenting practices can all lead to trouble during divorce proceedings. This is why deactivating all social media accounts during divorce is usually the safest option.
Unfortunately, poor choices on social media are not the only stumbling block many people encounter while divorcing. Anyone preparing for a divorce should consider speaking with an attorney as soon as possible. An attorney can provide advice on issues such as privacy rights, along with guidance on the steps a person can take to reduce the likelihood of an unfavorable settlement.
Keywords: social media, divorce, alimony, custody