Knowing how to avoid social media’s pitfalls during a divorce and how to utilize it for discovery gathering can make all the difference.
20 years ago, Myspace and Facebook were still in their infancy. It started as something that young college students used to plan events; now, it is synonymous with most people’s lives. No longer just the realm of young individuals – grandparents, parents, cousins, nearly anyone with a smartphone or computer likely has some form of a social media account. All of this leaves a potentially large digital footprint on the internet. What was once an innocent picture posted late at night can now be evidence against you.
How Social Media Can Affect Your Divorce
Any divorce attorney will tell you the dangers of social media during divorce or custody hearings. It is all too common where an offended party sends their lawyer screenshots of photos or message threads. Traditionally, to get access to a private source of data, a pleading had to be made. Potential one had to convince a judge of the merits of what evidence may or may not be found on a personal computer. Now, however, we no longer hide our photos in albums. Instead, we can instantly go from taking a picture to posting it online. The same applies to our personal thoughts. What was a private conversation among friends, commenced and then lost, is now a documented account. It is retrievable, it is sharable, and it is evidence.
How to Protect Yourself During Court Proceedings
Well, first, do not delete your old posts. This may seem like an easy solution, but the court requires parties to preserve any data that may pertain to their case. As soon as you have reason to believe they may enter litigation, you have a duty to prevent the loss of data. In fact, by destroying old posts, you may force the court not only to sanction you but also to consider the lost evidence as being in favor of the requesting party. What may have once been discussed in open court and dismissed as irrelevant can now be seriously damaging.
This begs the question if you cannot delete old posts, then what is the best option? Do not post frequently, and when you do post, keep it neutral. Avoid the temptation to discuss your case. If you need to have that conversation, speak with your attorney, or keep it to private conversations with neutral parties. As well, be sure that your privacy settings are set to a high level, thus limiting what someone outside of your friend’s list can view.
This brings up another pressing point, look through your friend’s list, and remove anyone you believe may not have your best interests at heart. After weeding out the friend’s list, you should avoid accepting friend requests from people you do not recognize and ask family and friends to be cognizant of this strategy. Finally, limit, through settings, what people can share from your page. It would also behoove you to ask those you keep on your list to refrain from sharing what you post.
St. Louis Family Law Attorney
Technology is neither positive nor negative. It is a tool, and like all tools, it can benefit or complicate our lives. Knowing how to avoid social media’s pitfalls during a divorce and how to utilize it for discovery gathering can make all the difference. Be sure to contact your trusted St. Louis family law attorney to understand better how to manage your social media accounts. Here, ignorance will most certainly be against your best wishes.
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