Caring & Experienced Panama City Attorney

How Does Social Media Impact Family Law Cases?

Many people don’t realize that social media can have a direct impact on their legal cases, including proceedings in family court. Most people are unaware of this reality. Social media is still a relatively new phenomenon. It’s important to understand the repercussions and realities surrounding these new public communication platforms, especially if you are facing a legal issue such as a family law matter, including a child custody question, child support debate, alimony issue, relocation dispute, and / or divorce.

Social media is a part of our lives now. Studies show that approximately 65% of men and women—and 89% of people under age 30—who have Internet access utilize social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, MySpace, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and Instagram. Some people also keep public blogs on platforms such as WordPress, Tumblr, and Blogger.

Many people think that these social media accounts are relatively private. They view these accounts as conversations between friends. This is not entirely accurate, however. Anything published on the Internet is there “for good.” It can be accessed and it can be used against you and / or your loved ones in a trial. Family lawyers have been known to utilize social media posts and comments as evidence in family court. It’s extremely important to be careful about the information you release on these platforms.

But What If My Account Is Set to “Private?”

Just because your account has privacy settings in place doesn’t mean that you are safe. One of your friends on Facebook, followers on Twitter or Instagram, or other online connections could access a post and pass it along to someone who could use it against you in a case.

What Do I Need to Be Aware Of?

It’s not just posts you write about the case specifically that could damage your results. You may also be affected by:

  • Posts made by others about your case
  • Comments written about a spouse or child
  • Facebook “rants” about the case, spouse, child’s parent, or other individual involved
  • Pictures of expensive purchases, which could affect a property division, alimony, and / or child support case
  • Pictures you post or pictures you are tagged in depicting “partying” or alcohol use; which, even if innocent, could be misinterpreted by a court and affect a custody case

Don’t make the mistake of posting something you will later regret. Write your thoughts down in a Microsoft Word document—or on paper, the old fashioned way—before you post anything to social media. Give yourself the chance to cool off before publishing something that could come back to bite you. When you feel the need to vent about the frustrations of your case, call a close, trusted friend.

Keep Your Social Media “Safe”

This is some general advice for protecting yourself from anything unfortunate arising in your family court case as a result of social media. Make sure to “untag” yourself from photos that could be misinterpreted. Delete comments or posts made by others on your social media accounts in regards to your family or your case. Encourage your loved ones not to discuss the situation online. Remove and “block” people from your friends and followers lists who are not sympathetic. Change all of your passwords, including passcodes for your phone and computer. Reinsure the security / privacy settings of your accounts. Remember, it’s always better to be on the safe side with social media.