Facebook in Family Court Matters: Tips for Posting and Sharing

Facebook’s Role in our Lives

Facebook in Family Court MattersFacebook is an online social media platform that allows users to interact, link, communicate, and partner with other users from around the world. Through photo uploads, status updates, and videos, users can keep-in-touch with family, friends, professional colleagues, and acquaintances. Facebook has captivated the society as we know it; with nearly two billion users worldwide, it is no wonder why this social media powerhouse has found its way into a majority of educational, societal, and cultural spaces. Therefore, it is important to know how your social media use can impact you in family court.

Facebook Use in Family Court Matters

Statistics on the use of Facebook in family law matters:

  • Facebook evidence is used in 20% of custody proceedings;
  • 1 in 5 divorces are blamed on Facebook;
  • 66% of attorneys cite Facebook as the primary source for online divorce evidence used by or against them in court;

Given these statistics, people must continuously inform themselves about the legal impact that social media can have on their familial ties and bonds. More specifically, special attention should be drawn to the legal ramifications that a “virtual identity” can have on your “actual identity.” One post on social media can lead to victory or defeat in family court matters.

6 Tips on Facebook Use When Involved in Family Court Matters

It is important to take preventative measures to avoid jeopardizing your case. Here are six things to consider before you click “post” on Facebook:

1. Refrain from posting inappropriate content about your ex-spouse, child, or any other involved-person if you are a party to a family court proceeding. In family court, Facebook can affect custody, spousal maintenance, divorce settlements, and visitation limitations of the parents.
2. Facebook posts can be used to show that the opposing party in a family court matter is an excessive spender, an irresponsible or unfit parent, or, that the other party is a drug or alcohol dependent. In family court, you should be aware of posts that reveal: major purchases if involved in child support and alimony proceedings; lifestyle choices if involved in a custody battle; new romances if involved in a divorce settlement; and, private conversations in any type of case. The goal is to avoid giving the opposing party damaging information that can be used against you in court.
3. Erase the idea of having privacy based on settings and think of Facebook as a public space that anyone can access. Despite your security settings, Facebook poses a special threat to anyone using it as a medium to communicate. There is no guarantee that the information is completely gone once you hit “delete.”
4. Avoid making Facebook posts and statuses in moments of anger. Such posts are often misinterpreted and will portray you in a negative light. The standard for deciding to post something during a family court matter is whether you are comfortable with a judge seeing the post when making decisions about your case.
5. Deactivate or—at a minimum—“unfriend” the ex-spouse/partner, and anyone who could possibly be associated with their account. This preventive measure will not set a limit on any other mutual friends and family’s access. A plausible alternative could be to inform those friends and family members of one’s involvement in a family court dispute and the importance of not engaging you or your ex-spouse on the Facebook.
6. Get acclimated with the evidence rules that are used in court that would allow this type of evidence in (or keep it out). We will feature this topic in our next blog and review some of the important parts of evidentiary procedures as they relate Facebook posts.

Since there is no indication that the courts will continue to allow Facebook evidence into family court matters, it is important to have an experienced Maryland family law attorney. Whether you are going through a divorce, a custody battle, or any other family dispute, you need an attorney who will advocate on your behalf and understand the implications that Facebook can have on your family court matter. Contact Angel Murphy with The Murphy Law Firm, LLC today to schedule your family law matter consultation at (240) 493-9116 or angel@amurphylegal.com. If you are active on social media, Like us on Facebook @AMurphyLegal, Follow us on Instagram @AMurphyLegal, and Twitter @AMurphy_Legal