Can Social Media Data be Used During a Divorce Case?
Yes. Any images or discussions you share on social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or Tumblr can absolutely be used as evidence of an extramarital affair in divorce court. Although divorces in New Jersey do not have to have grounds (in other words, you do not need to prove that your partner has committed infidelity to be granted a divorce), proof of infidelity can play a role in how the court determines a couple’s alimony agreement. This is not the only way social media data can be used in a divorce case. Pictures of new partners, pictures of an individual engaging in dangerous or illegal behaviors, and how an individual talks about his or her former partner, the court, and his or her child custody arrangement can all be used to determine an appropriate settlement or modification to a divorced couple’s settlement.
How Can Social Media Data be Used?
It can be used as evidence to support any allegation about an individual’s character or his or her changed living situation after a divorce, necessitating a closer look at his or her alimony, child support, or child custody agreement.
For example, a divorce settlement might state that an individual is only to receive alimony if he or she does not cohabitate with a new partner. If the paying partner in this scenario finds out through social media that his or her former spouse is living with a new partner, he or she can use this to prove to the court that his or her former spouse has “changed circumstances” and is no longer eligible for alimony payments.
Another way social media can be used in divorce court is to prove that a parent is not fit to have custody of his or her child. Images of the individual using drugs or screen shots of him or her talking about drug use or other behaviors that could put his or her child at risk of harm can be used to prove this.
Social media can also be used to discover an individual’s hidden assets. If an individual attempts to hide his or her assets during the divorce process by making large purchases, images of these purchases can prove that he or she bought the items before the divorce was finalized.
Divorcing? Stay off Social Media
Remember, anything you post on social media is there forever. Even if you delete a picture or a conversation, you have no way to tell who took a screen shot of your comment or saved your image. The best way to avoid having your social media accounts used against you in divorce court is to stay off social media until your divorce is finalized. Do not, under any circumstances, speak badly of your former partner on social media during the divorce process. This can only hurt you by reflecting poorly upon your character.
For more advice about how to handle your divorce, contact The Law Office of Eric B. Hannum Esq., LLC. at 732-370-9596. Our experienced team of family attorneys can answer your questions about divorce and family law and provide you with the representation you need in court. Our firm proudly serves Monmouth, Ocean, Middlesex, Mercer, and Burlington counties.