Originally published by Mark Clasby.
For all of the good that social media brings, it has the ability to sink a family law or divorce case with one post. When you are going to make a post, you should think, what does this post say to the Court? Who is the audience of people who will read my post?
Custody battles and divorces are stressful and are rarely fair. You will experience every emotion there is at just about any moment. That does not mean you should post about them. It is okay to get angry, it is okay to get upset or to feel hurt. Controlling those emotions and reactions is part of being a responsible adult and can be crucial for a case. It is imperative that a party has outlets for their emotions other than social media.
Party’s who understand technology are at a major advantage. This goes beyond financial statements and phone records. Social media technology has enhanced the ability to capture a moment and freeze it in time. In an instant, a party can create a screenshot of a lapse in judgment that may have only been posted for a few seconds. No apology post can explain it away because the damage has already been done. Party’s need to be aware that any one of your friends can give evidence to the other party. Even privatizing your posts will not protect you, and can actually hurt you. In other words, judgment, fitness and capacity are now able to be viewed for the over poster around the clock.
A party really needs to think before they post. Be it a check-in, a photo, a meme, anything that is shared through social media, a party must ask, what would the Judge in my case think if they saw this? Treating every post as if the judge is going to see it, is a good policy. Courts only get a snapshot of a party’s life, make sure the snapshot is accurate and paints you in a positive light.
A quick guide of posts not to make: posts at a bar or with alcohol; posts ripping or blaming the other parent or the court; posts that are vague or passive aggressive; posts about your mental health; posts about your children being a drag; and for divorcees, posts of a date with someone other than the person you are divorcing. It is still adultery until the divorce is finalized.
The best policy is to not post at all, or to focus solely on positive things. This may seem like common sense, but the amount of Facebook posts, Tweets, Snaps, Instagram posts and more that are shown in court continue to grow, and not because opposing counsels are trying to say how amazing a mother the party is.
Social Media is not a place to air dirty laundry. Courts view that as irresponsible and poor judgment. Two traits that do not reflect well in most cases.
So remember, think before you post, comment, share, tag, tweet, snap or what have you, and then, don’t do it.
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