Social media is an important format for interacting with friends, family and others. There are many pluses and minuses to this new reality, and regardless of how one feels about it, one’s digital footprint is an increasingly important part of the information gathering process that happens when one files for divorce. What was once harmless sharing of sporting triumphs, family trips, and important milestones posted on Facebook or Instagram are now analyzed by the opposing party and the court.
Post-filing information on the web will also be examined, including profiles on dating sites like Tinder or ski trips with the guys, to gain insight into the life of a separated spouse. Seemingly harmless shots will be examined for clues for mental health issues like addiction, a person’s spending habits as well as a parent’s circle of friends and work colleagues.
Information for discovery
During the divorce process, there is a general effort to obtain and preserve information for discovery. Traditionally this includes tax returns, bank statements, lists of assets, proof of deceit or misbehavior and other pertinent information. It can involve requests for admission, depositions (sworn statements before a court reporter) and interrogatories (your version of the truth). It can be lengthy, painstaking and invasive, particularly for those who want to keep their personal life private.
The digital footprint on social media will not have the same weight as the above, but it can cause problems, particularly when there are matters in dispute. Posting pictures of new cars, fancy trips or even extravagant gifts to the kids will have a bearing whether the other side believes there is an accurate tally of marital assets or income.
Keeping a low profile
Individuals best serve themselves by keeping a low digital (or otherwise) profile during the process of divorce. It is best to pay the bills and go about the business of building a stable new life, but it is often best to avoid big purchases unless that is part of a job description. Knowledgeable family law attorney know how to track a digital footprint and can remind clients of the dos and don’ts of the digital era as well as other important strategies specific to the circumstances of your divorce.