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.