We’re All Celebrities: What Has Social Media Done To Divorce Cases?

The celebrity divorce is the quintessential aisle dressing of shopping centers across America. It seems like every day there’s a new cover story alleging an upcoming celebrity divorce (and sometimes they’re right. Sometimes). And we eat it up! Why is it that celebrity divorces are so popular? And is social media making the average person’s divorce more like a celebrity divorce?

Social Media, Divorce & The Court Of Public Opinion

What separates the average divorce from a celebrity divorce is that celebrity divorces are often these public spectacles that everyone wants a piece of. Some celebrities will use sites like Facebook or Twitter or even YouTube to tell their side of their story, hoping to garner sympathy and, in some contentious cases, turn the public opinion against their spouse.

Nowadays, social media has allowed the average divorcee to use social media for the same purposes ”“ to air their exes’ dirty laundry in hopes of gathering support or sympathy or even tangible things like property or child custody. It can be as simple as emailing their estranged partner’s family to allege infidelity, or something as far-reaching as posting a picture of the partner’s new boat as a way of spiting the partner for lying about assets.

We understand that divorce is an intensely personal, emotional process and that recovery takes a long time. But it should also be a private process. There’s nothing wrong with discussing your divorce with close friends or family members, but putting it out there on social media can often lead to disastrous consequences. Know that in your divorce, all of these electronic records are going to be used by both yours and your former partner’s attorneys in order to come up with asset division plans and parenting schedules. Keep your divorce out of your friends’ Facebook feeds, or it might come back to haunt you.

Our Denver family lawyers use thorough electronic discovery methods in order to ensure that you receive your fair share in divorce.

Facebragging: Is It Causing Divorces?

Social media plays a huge role in divorce. Attorneys can use social media posts as evidence to argue for things like child support, spousal support and other important aspects of divorce cases. Divorce selfies have become a trendy way to announce over Facebook or Twitter that you and your spouse have split up. And Facebook routinely shows up as a contributing factor in one-third of divorces.

Needless to say, social media is very powerful. But what is it about these sites, and Facebook in particular, that causes such rifts between married partners? One trend ”“ known as Facebragging ”“ might have something to do with it.

What Is Facebragging?

Facebragging is the trend of posting things on Facebook to show off to your friends under the guise of simply sharing news. Facebragging can create unrealistic ideals that social media users may then apply to their own marriages. Here’s are some examples:

  1. Bob is commenting on his friend Patrick’s Facebook photos when he finds a picture of Patrick and his wife Jane on a cruise in Cabo. Bob is jealous that Patrick’s wife makes excellent money and is able to afford time off for a cruise, while Bob’s wife is a stay-at-home mom.
  2. Bob’s wife Layla is on Facebook and sees Jane’s heart emoji-laden post about the new house she just bought with Patrick. Layla wonders why she lives in a small two-bedroom duplex with Bob and wishes he would work harder to support the family.
  3. Patrick sees photos of Layla posing in the new clothes she just bought with her Christmas bonus. Patrick begins to wonder why Jane is not as physically fit as Layla and begins to lose attraction.

The plights of Patrick, Bob, Layla and Jane are becoming more and more common as social media continues to loom large in the lives of married couples, creating a sort of “keeping up with the Joneses” effect that can lead to resentment. When people are overexposed to Facebragging, it’s not shocking to see that it can hurt a marriage to the point of causing divorce.

For more details on how social media interacts with divorce cases, check out this video by Divorce Matters.

Cell Phone Forensics on the Rise in Divorce Cases

Careful what you do with your smartphones during divorce ”“ according to the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (AAML), approximately 97 percent of members have reported an increase in the amount of evidence taken from smartphones and other wireless devices in the last few years.

A lot can be gleaned from smartphones that could be relevant in a divorce case. Text messages are the most frequently used, as well as emails, phone numbers, call history, internet browser searches and GPS location information.

One underutilized resource for obtaining information is apps. Everyone uses them, and even game apps such as Words with Friends could have information relevant to a divorce. Many games have a built-in chat function, making these apps just as valuable as text messages when used as evidence. Other apps like Snapchat, Google Maps and Tinder (for obvious reasons) could be used to gather data for a divorce case.

Protecting Your Smartphone Data in Divorce

If you are going through a divorce, you should be very careful with what you do on your smartphone. Just like social media postings, anything you say on your phone, even to someone other than your spouse, can be used against you. Others can screenshot the things you say and your data can be subpoenaed by your spouse’s attorney. It is incredibly easy to self-incriminate through smartphone use, so use your best judgment. Likewise, if you have information relevant to your divorce that you believe can help you in your divorce, such as things your spouse said that could affect his or her custody of your children, you should present that information to a family law attorney.

Divorce Matters ”“ Denver Family Law Attorneys

Why Facebook Might Not Be Your Friend During Divorce

Lawyers are reporting more and more cases in which an angry spouse went to Facebook and made negative comments about their soon-to-be ex”¦only to have those Facebook postings “among friends” come back to haunt them in their divorce proceeding.

Going through a divorce is an emotional, stressful time. During these times, it’s natural to turn to your virtual support group for help. But if you are in the process of divorcing, think twice before venting on Facebook.

According to a recent survey by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (AAML), Facebook is a primary source for online evidence in 66% of divorces today. What people say on their walls and in comments is public and it can be used in divorce proceedings. And there is even more reason to beware of Facebook. Even what other people post about you is public knowledge! For example, if you are tagged in a photo, you are now visible in that photo to not only your friends but your friends’ friends, and possibly the entire public, depending on your friends’ privacy settings. So it’s “poster beware” when it comes to Facebook for anyone contemplating or engaged in divorce proceedings.

So what are some common Facebook mistakes people make during their divorce process?

  • Trashing Your Ex: Be on the safe side and curtail your Facebook activity during any divorce or custody proceedings. We all need a support group, but for now, a smaller, less virtual one is probably safer.
  • Posting (or Posing for) Damning Photos: Avoid posting things yourself that could put you in an unfavorable light, and ask your friends to refrain from posting any images that contain your photo.
  • Lying: Because Facebook posts are admissible in divorce proceedings, you may get caught in any lie you tell; for example, misrepresenting your financial situation and then posting about new purchases and expensive hobbies.

Another recent survey by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers found that 81% of their attorneys are seeing a rise in social media being used in divorce cases .

The average Facebook user has 130 friends. And those friends have an average of 130 friends. And so on and so on. Each of your friends has varying levels of privacy settings. Some of your friends may be completely private, but some may be visible to anyone and everyone. If just one of your friends posts on his or her wall and one of their friends shares that on his or her wall, your private life could be reaching a wider audience than you ever imagined.

If you post something on Facebook that touches any of your divorce negotiations, be prepared to answer to it in court. Or even better””find a good friend to talk to in person about your divorce and leave Facebook alone until your case is closed.