Social Media Can Impact Your Divorce Case

In the era of posts, likes, and shares, social media has become a central part of our daily lives, and social media can impact your divorce case in more ways than one. In Washington State, as in many other places, the content you post on social media can be admissible in court and may influence the outcome of your divorce proceedings.  

The Power of Social Media Posts

Social media posts are not just short thoughts or casual updates; they can serve as powerful evidence in court. According to the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, over 80% of U.S. divorce attorneys report they’ve seen an increase in the number of cases using social media evidence during the last few years. 

In Washington State, anything you post – whether it’s a photo, a status update, or even a location check-in – can reveal personal information about your habits, lifestyle, and behavior, which can be used in court.

Common Ways Social Media Can Affect Divorce Proceedings

Financial Disclosures

When going through a divorce, financial disclosures are critical. They determine how assets and debts will be divided, and they can affect alimony decisions. If your social media profiles show a lifestyle that contradicts what you’ve declared in court, it could raise questions. For instance, claiming financial hardship while posting pictures of luxury vacations or expensive purchases might not sit well with the judge. 

In Washington, the courts aim for a fair division of property (RCW 26.09.080), and any perceived dishonesty could impact that division.

Child Custody Considerations

Child custody decisions are made based on the best interests of the child (RCW 26.09.187). Social media can provide a window into your parenting style and environment. Posts that suggest irresponsible behavior, such as excessive partying or neglectful actions, can be used to question your fitness as a parent. 

Although, positive posts showing active involvement in your child’s life can support your case for custody.

Infidelity Evidence

Washington is a no-fault divorce state, meaning that you don’t need to prove wrongdoing like infidelity to get divorced (RCW 26.09.030). However, if infidelity is relevant to other aspects of the divorce, such as the division of assets or spousal support, then social media interactions that suggest an affair can become relevant . 

Comments, messages, or tagged photos might be scrutinized for evidence of a relationship that could have financial implications.

Real Case Scenarios

There have been numerous instances where social media played a pivotal role in divorce cases. For example, in one case, a spouse claimed inability to pay spousal support, yet their social media profiles were filled with pictures of new cars and exotic vacations. This discrepancy led to a different alimony ruling than might have occurred without that evidence. 

In another instance, a spouse denied having an extramarital relationship, but their social media told a different story. Comments and photographs suggested a close and possibly romantic connection with someone else. 

This evidence was brought to light during the proceedings and affected the final settlement. While specific Washington State cases are protected by privacy laws, similar scenarios have unfolded in courtrooms across the state.

These examples serve as cautionary tales that underscore the importance of being aware of your digital footprint during a divorce. What you share online can have real-world consequences, sometimes altering the course of legal decisions in significant ways.

Tips for Managing Social Media During a Divorce

Privacy Settings Check-up 

First things first: review your privacy settings. Ensure that your profiles are set to the highest level of privacy. However, remember that privacy settings are not foolproof. Friends, or friends of friends, can still take screenshots or share information. 

Also, in Washington, even private posts can be subpoenaed and used in court if they’re found to be relevant to the case.

Think Before You Post

Always think twice before posting anything on social media during a divorce. Ask yourself how your post could be interpreted by someone who doesn’t know the context or by a judge. If there’s any chance it could negatively impact your case, it’s better to keep it offline.

Consider Taking a Social Media Break

Sometimes, the safest bet is to take a break from social media altogether until your divorce is finalized. This eliminates the risk of something you post being used against you. 

Navigating a divorce is hard, and social media adds another layer to consider. Understanding the potential impact of your online activity on your divorce case is crucial. By being cautious and thoughtful about your social media use, you can help ensure that your digital footprint doesn’t negatively affect the outcome of your divorce. 

Remember, when in doubt, it’s wise to consult with a legal professional who can guide you based on current laws and regulations. Stay informed, stay private, and stay positive as you move forward.

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