Facebook and other social media sites have become an important part of how people communicate and interact in today’s culture. They are fun and useful, and in most cases they are second nature. When something happens in our lives, we post about it to let our friends know. When something happens in our careers, we update our profiles to enhance professional connections. We’re sharing our “news,” personal and professional.
Unfortunately, we sometimes do this without thinking through all the potential consequences. We are coming to realize that not every “friend” is a friend, not every contact is a good connection. And although we believe that many of our conversations are completely private, they can be anything but.
Facebook and other platforms have completely changed the way we share information, in both positive and negative ways. Let’s take a look not at how they are changing the ways we connect, but in the way we disconnect…or divorce.
Who can see your information on social media?
Many times, people do not think about who has access to their Facebook page. A decent divorce attorney can find and potentially spin much of the information you have willingly divulged against you. As a result of all the information on Facebook, the profiles can be a treasure trove in the divorce setting. Some common examples of this might include:
- Pictures posted of a parent with an alcoholic beverage when alcohol abuse is at issue.
- Posting pictures of your child on Facebook and/or a dating social media site while you are going through a divorce with custody issues.
- Pictures of you in a compromising circumstance.
- Pictures of illegal drug use/paraphernalia or comments supporting illegal drug use, especially when drug use is at issue.
- Statements about hidden assets.
Online activity can provide clues to hidden assets, household instability or other dirty tricks.
- Where does the loyalty lie? Most of the time, marriages result in more than just an accumulation of assets. They also result in an accumulation of many mutual friends and relationships. Upon a divorce, more times than not, these mutual relationships end up with one person being more loyal to one spouse or another. Spouses may be fed information from friends via their social media profiles. Just a reminder: although you may have blocked your spouse from viewing your Facebook page, that does not also exclude every mutual connection that you have.
- Sudden changes in posting behavior can make a person seem unstable. It happens all too often that a grieving, angry or perhaps bitter spouse begins to over-post or over-share the many details of their life on social media. This act of airing their dirty laundry can have many downfalls. Ex-spouses updating or changing their relationship status may tip off the world that they are co-habituating with a boyfriend and/or girlfriend, thereby reducing their need for spousal support. Frequent updates could also signal an unstable or volatile household for children. Parents making allegations of instability against the other parent, may be able to substantiate their claims by reviewing Facebook history to see whether the other parent goes on nonsensical rants or posts bad comments about other people.
- Sometimes it isn’t your spouse’s online activity that gives him away, but their friends’. It almost never fails in divorce cases when money is involved. One spouse is the breadwinner and the other still needs their support. Trickery is not lost on social media however. Maybe your wife’s friends shared pictures of their trip to Vegas in their beautiful suite, or your husband’s new girlfriend updated her Facebook status to exclaim over an expensive present, when he just pleaded in Court that he’s broke. Or maybe a college friend of suddenly appears in pictures with a “new” boat –one you recognize as your spouse’s, and suspect that this pal is holding it for them until your divorce is finalized. If you think your spouse may be hiding assets, social media activity might well bear out your suspicions.
Email and text messages can be admissible evidence in divorce court.
In addition to social media and networking sites, emails and text messages can also be subpoenaed. Texts and emails are possibly the most routine outlet of communication these days. Often times, spouses think nothing of discussing their private lives over a “private” message. But, beware, the most innocent mention of a new job offer, a bonus at work, or maybe even a mini vacation to “get away from it all” can be gone through with a fine tooth comb. If either party has shared information digitally that is not in conjunction with what they have conveyed in person or in legal documents, it can cause serious problems. Lying on financial documents is a crime, and social media, email and texts can potentially create a trail of evidence that can be very hard to explain. A good rule of thumb is to not put any information into an email or text that you would not want a judge to read during divorce court.
Who can help me with filing for divorce in Georgia?
Filing for divorce can be confusing and complicated, and it is important to seek experienced an divorce lawyer to ensure your assets are protected. Martha Hall, of Hall & Navarro, PC, understands the challenges and has provided excellent counsel for numerous families filing for divorce in Georgia.
Martha Hall has been assisting clients in South Georgia with Family Law proceedings for over 14 years. Martha is passionate about helping families when they are faced with complex family law issues. She has helped many families work through complicated divorces in Statesboro, GA, Springfield, GA, Sylvania, GA and the surrounding areas.
Martha concentrates in Family Law. Specifically, she concentrates in the areas of Divorce, Child Custody Issues, Child Support Issues, Adoption, Mediation, and Legitimation. Martha attended The University of Memphis—Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law and received her Juris Doctorate, Law in 1994 from Georgia Southern University. Hall & Navarro has two South Georgia offices to serve you, one in Springfield, GA and one in Statesboro, GA. The attorneys at Hall & Navarro provide focused and experienced representation from your initial consultation until the resolution of your legal matter. We are dedicated to serving individuals and businesses and offer a broad range of legal services.