Facebook isn't just for sharing information with our friends anymore; it is making its way into every aspect of our lives, including the courtroom. Divorce lawyers around the country will tell you that social media (Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, LinkedIn) plays a part in many divorce and child custody disputes.
And the part it plays is not subtle.
Judges have significant latitude in deciding whether to allow Facebook posts and other forms of social media as evidence in family law cases. That evidence can make or break a case, especially a child custody case.
When a court decides a child custody case, its main focus must be on the best interests of the children. Evidence proving that a parent is not fit to take care of a child can swing the pendulum in the other parent's favor. For example, if a Facebook post shows that a parent has a propensity for violence, the court may use that post as evidence that the parent is unfit to have joint or sole custody of the children.
Similarly, Facebook can be used to show that another party has lied to the judge. Telling the court that you don't do drugs can backfire if the other party finds a recent Facebook picture of you with marijuana.
The best thing you can do during your divorce is to get off Facebook and other social media. If that isn't possible, then make sure your privacy settings are very high and avoid posting statuses and pictures that could hurt your case, such as:
- Derogatory statements against another party or judge
- Anything that could contradict what you said in court
- Drinking or smoking pictures
- Aggressive statements
- Information involving another intimate relationship
Source: The Legal Intelligencer, "Facebook Has Become a Factor for Family Law Cases," Ben Present, Jan. 31, 2012.