How Can Social Media Affect Your Connecticut Divorce?
Fairfield County Family Law Attorney
In recent years, the use of social media outlets such as Facebook has been attributed to causing divorce among married couples. In addition to being a cause of divorce, things posted on social media sites such as Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter, LinkedIn, or Instagram may also cause other problems during divorce proceedings. While privacy is always a concern on social media, it is a greater concern when over half of U.S. couples admit to knowing their spouse’s Facebook password and can uncover incriminating information that may affect divorce settlements, marital support, child support, or child custody.
Social Media and (Lack of) Privacy
“You can never really delete anything.” This fact, coupled with automatic geotagging in photographs (automatic location information uploaded from your phone) and easy access to location information can make keeping secrets hard. This is especially true considering how many possible platforms there are for people to reveal where they are, who they are with, and even how long they have been there. Consider:
- Foursquare/Swarm: Allows you to “check in” at restaurants, bars, stores, and virtually everywhere else;
- Instagram/Twitter: Photos and statements will often automatically indicate where the photo was taken, whether it be the city or the exact location;
- Facebook: Photos may automatically include location and “tag” people in the photos that Facebook recognizes from your previous posts. Facebook now also prioritizes your “friends” list by those with whom you have the most “interaction” (including page visits, private message conversations, etc.), which is accessible to anyone who gets on your personal page; and
- LinkedIn: Shows who has looked at your professional profile and will show when other people have looked at yours.
There is also Yelp, WhatsApp, Skype, and the controversial Snapchat, which allows users to take and send photos without a trace of their existence on your phone. Any and all of these apps can unintentionally reveal information about your whereabouts. Consider also that even if you “delete” your soon-to-be ex-spouse, you may not have deleted mutual friends that can provide them with access to your page. This access may reveal secrets that may affect your divorce settlement arrangement.
Keeping Secrets During Divorce Proceedings
How does all of this play into divorce? Well, consider that you told your spouse you were having money troubles and had to work long hours because you make overtime. Utilizing social media, your spouse could easily discover without much effort that 1) you were actually at a restaurant and not at the office, and 2) that you are eating out at a five star restaurant with someone named Shelby_loo12 on Foursquare, for example. This demonstrates an underlying lie in addition to the fact that maybe you are not, in fact, having money trouble.
This is relevant because both parties are entitled to all money, assets, savings, and property acquired during the term of the marriage, known as marital property. Anything and everything obtained by the couple during marriage, even if the property was only issued in one of the spouse’s names is considered marital property and both parties have an equal claim to it during the divorce. Hiding assets, or not disclosing certain income or savings, is a common problem that can be uncovered by utilizing social media platforms. In the example above, the spouse may believe that the other spouse is having money troubles, but this may be challenged when it is known that he/she is dining out at expensive restaurants, or from evidence from other posts about extravagant purchases, planned trips, or recent inheritances/gifts you may not know about.
Social Media and Other Considerations
In addition to monetary considerations, social media may also affect your rights to your children. If you asked to have the children for the weekend, but you post that you went on vacation and left them with a sitter, things will not go well. These things may be used as evidence to support what is/is not in the best interest of the child after a divorce, and your interest in your children can be conveyed by your actions that are visible to others on social media.
E-mails, text messages, voicemails, and posts on personal blogs may also be introduced during divorce proceedings to demonstrate the current state of the relationship, assets, children, and other factors that are considered during a divorce. The most important thing is that all of the information (how much money is in the accounts, how each spouse is interacting with marital children, what assets are part of the marriage, what other assets exist that the other spouse may not be aware of) is known to both parties so that a reasonable division of the property and assets can be contemplated during the settlement proceedings. There are severe consequences to lying about these things, withholding information or money, or failing to disclose new information that comes up before the divorce is finalized. It is safe to assume that everything you post on social media will be seen by your soon to be ex-spouse and that it will affect your divorce proceeding, perhaps not in the manner you would wish.
Westport, Connecticut Divorce Attorney
Using these social media, even seemingly innocently, can cause massive complications that can be time-consuming, expensive, and create unnecessary drama during an otherwise amicable divorce. Attorney Richard H. Raphael has the experience necessary to help you avoid making an irreversible mistake on social media and also to help you utilize your ex-spouse’s social accounts to ensure that there are no secrets.
Richard H. Raphael is a skilled Connecticut family law attorney who can assist you with your divorce, settlement negotiations, child support and custody battles, property divisions, and modification agreements if necessary. Contact his full-service Westport, Connecticut office to learn more about how to protect your rights during divorce proceedings and what to do to ensure you receive everything that you are entitled to after your divorce. Call 203-226-6168 to schedule your free initial consultation today.