Social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter allow us to keep up with family, friends and others. However, it is also a two-edged sword because posting and interacting with others online is increasingly scrutinized when a couple goes through the information gathering process during a divorce. Suddenly, what was once a girl’s night out photo, posts about trips or celebrating important work milestones could be used against the spouse who posted them.
Once the couple has filed for divorce, the other side will examine profiles on dating sites, search for new friends appearing in online photos and scrutinize ski trips with the guys. They are looking for clues about dating, mental health issues like alcoholism, a spouse’s lavish spending, or a new circle of friends.
What is information for discovery?
This information gathering process during divorce involves a general attempt to collect all the possible information regarding taxes, income, bank statements, assets as well as any proof of misbehavior or deceit. It can include requests for admission, sworn statements before a court reporter (depositions) and your version of the truth (interrogatories). It can be arduous, invasive and uncomfortable for those who like to keep their personal life private.
Tax statements, retirement funds and other issues are of more significant concerns, but the digital information gathered can impact a court ruling. For example, a parent may find themselves fighting for shared custody because the other side alleges a gambling addiction after your trip to Las Vegas. Posting pictures of a new car or expensive new home may lead the other side to scrutinize the financial numbers further.
A low profile is best
Those divorcing serve their own best interests by staying off social media or maintaining a very low profile until after the divorce is final. A knowledgeable family law attorney knows how to track digital footprints, and they can bring in forensic experts in the digital realm if the stated facts do not add up in their eyes. They will also likely have a conversation with their client about how they should proceed during divorce in the digital era.