If you are involved in a New Jersey divorce, about to file for divorce, or believe that your spouse is contemplating divorce, you should be aware that social media can be used both for and against you. While it is always wise to think twice before emailing, texting, or posting, it is especially important to do so when divorce is an issue. Remember, messages that take an instant to transmit cannot be taken back once you hit that “send” button.
The use of all types of social media by New Jersey divorce attorneys has increased steadily over the past several years. What you say, text, email, or post can be used against you as your divorce proceeds. On the other hand, an experienced New Jersey divorce lawyer can also use your spouse’s posts to support your allegations.
Social media postings, etc., can be used…
- to show an inconsistency regarding income and lifestyle;
- to find evidence of hidden assets;
- to find examples of inappropriate or irresponsible behavior;
- to indicate that a party lied in testimony;
- to give insight into a party’s parenting skills; and
- to provide information about other family law, divorce and child custody issues.
New Jersey is an equitable distribution state. In order for a judge to determine what constitutes a fair distribution of marital property, it is crucial that both parties provide complete and accurate information.
Information indicating that a party has been less than honest often can be found by studying that person’s social media output.
Read more: Family Law
Possible Scenario #1: A spouse has filed a motion to decrease the amount of alimony he must pay on the ground that he is having extreme financial difficulties.
His ex-wife does not think he is telling the truth. Some mutual friends have provided her with the following information, which she presents to her divorce attorney:
- her ex-husband sent out a tweet about the his beautiful new car;
- her ex’s new girlfriend posted a photo of the expensive gift he gave her; and
- a mutual Facebook friend posted a photo of her ex and his new girlfriend enjoying themselves at a luxury resort.
These and similar posts can be used by a savvy divorce lawyer to indicate that the ex-husband’s lifestyle does not match his declaration about his income.
Possible Scenario #2: A spouse testifies that she has no work skills and, therefore, it is unlikely that she will be able to find employment.
The wife’s Linked In profile indicates that she is highly skilled and that she has experience that most employers would welcome.
The husband’s lawyer can use the information to contradict her testimony.
New Jersey divorce and family law attorneys can use social media as evidence to support or fight child custody requests:
- photos in which a parent appears to be drunk, especially if the child is in his or
- a tweet about what a great time a parent is having at a party at a time when he is
supposed to be having quality parenting time with his child;
- evidence that a parent is away from home a lot because of work; and
- other texts, posts, tweets, etc., that would affect child custody or parenting time.
If you suspect that your ex is intentionally turning your child against you, you should take extra care not to email, text, or post anything that could be misconstrued and used against you.
It is equally important that you do not put out negative comments about your ex that might be construed as an attempt to turn your child against your exAdultery and Cohabitation
Even though most New Jersey spouses filing for divorce choose the no-fault ground of irreconcilable differences, some choose a fault ground, such as adultery.
In a survey conducted by the American Academy of Matrimonial Attorneys, more than 80% of divorce lawyers questioned reported an increase in their use of social media as evidence of spousal infidelity.
New Jersey divorce attorneys utilize many sources to obtain their evidence:
- Facebook posts of the spouse and the new girlfriend or boyfriend;
- New girlfriend’s or boyfriend’s Instagram photos of a gift from the spouse;
- tweets about their relationship;
- emails and texts to mutual friends about their relationship;
- and so on!
New Jersey divorce lawyers similarly use all forms of social media to prove cohabitation when the couple does not have an enforceable written cohabitation agreement.
Social media posts are routinely used as evidence in divorce and family law cases. Here are some common-sense suggestions regarding social media:
Advise your attorney if there is anything about your social media footprint that can be used against you.
Let your attorney know if your ex has posted anything that might be used as evidence to support your claims and/or contradict your spouse’s claims. Examples would be items such as these:
- tweets bragging about a bonus;
- photos of your spouse in front of a new luxury car; or
- a Facebook photo of your spouse at a party instead of being with your child during parenting time.
Refrain from posting photos, sending texts, etc., about a new romantic relationship.
Do not make negative statements about your spouse, including those referring to his or her parenting skills.
In other words, don’t post anything that you will be sorry for in the near future or even years from now!
Social media can be used to support or to undermine your testimony in your divorce. Take care when using Facebook, Twitter, Linked In, Instagram, and any other form of social networking.
Your knowledgeable New Jersey divorce attorney will use the information you provide to your advantage and will do what is necessary to fight against information that your ex might attempt to use in order to discredit you.