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Social media: The double-edged blade in divorce

Many people go onto social media to rant about the things they don't like and to share their love for things they do. They may post pictures, chat with friends or family on public walls or forums, and generally build a rather public community.

If you're going through a divorce, that public community needs to be locked down. Social media can be, and has been, used against people in divorces in the past. A claim of drug or alcohol abuse could become more concerning if there are multiple new pictures with glasses of wine, beer bottles, or paraphernalia. A claim that you are not seeing anyone could be ruined if there are multiple pictures or people referring to a new person as your boyfriend, girlfriend or lover. Claims that you're unable to afford to live comfortably on your current budget may be wrecked if you have multiple posts about a high-cost vacation or expensive shopping trip.

However, you must note that you cannot destroy any potential evidence that already exists. Meaning, you cannot take down posts or delete your profile. The spoliation of evidence is when you lose or destroy potentially relevant information that you are under a duty to preserve for litigation. You have a duty to preserve evidence. So, it is best to always keep your social media clear of any potentially damning evidence. Or, talk to an attorney about the potential of disabling an account or changing any privacy settings.

Social media can help or hurt you

As much as social media can hurt your own claims, it can also be beneficial to you if you're looking for evidence against your spouse.

For instance, if you believe that your spouse is using marital funds to date other people, you may be able to pull pictures from their social media (or from friends' pages). You may be able to connect those images to expenses that you saw coming out of your account and then connect the person in the pictures to other people mentioning your spouse's new girlfriend or date.

The problem with social media is that many people think it's more private than it is. Your spouse might have your access to their page limited, but if you add them as a friend with a new page or are friends with one of their friends, you may have more access than they thought. That means they may be more honest than they should be, giving you the opportunity to gather information from their posts.

Social media can be an excellent place to gather evidence for court, especially if you're trying to prove that your spouse has hidden assets or missing assets, is committing adultery or is lying about a claim they've made. On your side, you may want to discuss information on your account or ask an attorney if it is possible to disable your account until your divorce is over, so you can protect yourself against your spouse looking through your social media as well.

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