Social media posts are increasingly used in family court in Pennsylvania and across the country as evidence either to impeach the credibility of witnesses or to offer proof that events occurred, bruises did not exist or drugs were consumed. Think of how the media went wild over the alleged disappearing bruises on Amber Heard’s face. As the internet is almost universally a public space, social media is one of the next great frontiers of evidence in family court.
Typically attorneys will discourage their clients from posting about their court cases on social media websites; however, the issue goes deeper than that. Pennsylvania family law litigants are advised to consider what they have told the court and their attorney before they post on social media. For example, if you have pled in court that you cannot possibly be in contempt for not transferring title of your boat to your ex-Wife because you do not have a boat or failing to drive the children to a custody exchange because your car was repossessed, it is advisable not to post statuses on social media about them
Just because your marriage or relationship has broken up and you have “unfriended” your ex does not mean you are protected from their attorney and ultimately the court discovering what you have posted. Many people forget that security and privacy settings must be manually changed in order to avoid various posts being viewed by the public. Unless you change the settings on your Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram profiles, everyone, including your ex’s lawyer can see your posts. And as a general rule, you can assume that your ex’s attorney is looking at your social media profiles if you are involved in family law litigation in Pennsylvania.
Even if you profile is set to private, think about the people on your “friends list” are any of them friends with your ex? Is there someone who might be willing to provide them with information you post against you in court? Is there are reason that someone might provide that information to your ex or his attorney? Although it’s not necessary to be paranoid about every little thing that you post on social media, like anything else during a divorce or custody litigation, you should be vigilant and purposeful about the decisions you make and the things you post.
Check out our next post about viewing private messages on your spouse’s accounts. In the meantime, contact our Pittsburgh office today for more information!