Social media is all around us, all the time. While it used to be unusual to find any particular use or mention of it during divorce and custody cases, now, it’s almost impossible to run across a case in which it isn’t an issue.
Infidelity. Drug and alcohol use. Name calling. Selling property. Active parental alienation. These are just a few of the examples of things people have discovered on Facebook or Twitter that have come back to haunt their significant others in a family law case.
In the family law context (particularly divorce), there is a hotbed of ethics opinions regarding the advice attorneys can and should give their clients about social media use. If a client posted something nasty about his or her ex, is it best for that person to just delete it now and pretend it never happened?
No. Deleting posts is akin to destroying potential evidence for a case. An attorney cannot advise that course of action. However, it would be wise to adjust the privacy settings and try to limit the damage by minimizing the number of eyes that can see the post. Keep in mind, though, the damage may already be done.
So, is there a safe way to use social media? Should you just avoid it altogether? Not necessarily. But you would be wise to watch and consider—carefully—the items you choose to post. In the end, one of the biggest pieces of advice I give my clients is the exact same thing I teach my children: there really is no “private.” When you put it out there in the world on social media, even if your Facebook settings are set to the highest security, someone will still see it. Your words will still have an impact. What you say still matters.
In a divorce or custody battle…if you wouldn’t be okay with your judge or your children reading your words, they are probably better left unsaid. Remember, most of what happens in your case is confidential…unless you decide to talk about it with the world on social media. The best way to avoid these problems is to not make your private life public.