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Beware of Social Networks if you are getting Divorced

October 2013

Facebook updates, tweets and other social media posts can all be obtained in divorce proceedings. If you’re contemplating divorce in a situation where things could get ugly with care arrangements for your children or the division of assets, know that your spouse will use any ammunition you unwittingly leave online to discredit you.

According to a recent study, 20 percent of divorces involve Facebook in some way and more than 80 percent of divorce lawyers say they have seen an increase in the number of cases using social networking evidence during the past five years.

Clean up your Facebook presence

For parents facing a potential battle over the care of children, Facebook can pose a great danger. Pictures of you drinking, smoking or engaging in irresponsible behaviour can be used as evidence. There have also been cases that use Facebook to document your whereabouts.

Make sure your “Friends” are being friends

What your friends and family post online is often fodder for divorce lawyers - a birthday toast at the bar, a comment about a gift you gave your lover. Try not to rant or gossip and stay out of potentially incriminating pictures both those posted by yourself and others. And if your “Friends” are really friends, they’ll abide by your request to keep your offline conversations private and your photos clean.

Don't rip your ex on Facebook

If you post an untruthful comment, you could be sued for defamation. Even if you're telling the truth, you could sound like a raving maniac, which could potentially cost you when it comes time to determine care arrangements for your children or other issues related to your divorce.

Even "innocuous" status updates can come back to bite you

Out drinking when you should have been burning the midnight oil at the office? You don't need to post what bar you're at on your Facebook wall. Check-ins and other posts may seem harmless, but they could support your spouse's contentions that you're deceitful or have a problem with alcohol.

Keep your social circles separate

Things you post on Facebook will eventually get back to your spouse if you share some of the same friends. So even if you are careful with what you post, you may want to separate your friends from your spouse's. This will help keep your information more private among your group of friends.

Don't post your location

If you are involved in a particularly contentious divorce, or are being threatened with violence, you may not want to post your whereabouts on social media. Resist the temptation to "check in" at every venue you visit.

Close your accounts

Don't trust your judgment? The surest way to protect yourself is by closing all of your social media accounts. Sure, you may seem like a hermit to your super-connected peers. Or you may seem really cool. Either way, sticking to pre-Internet forms of communication ensures that nothing said on social media can be used against you in your divorce.

Staying under the radar is often best

You don’t have to delete all your social media profiles just because you’re getting a divorce. On the contrary, it can be helpful to stay in contact with friends and family through your favourite social networking site(s). However, you should be mindful of what you say and how you say it; you never know who’s reading.

Please Note: The information contained in this article is general in nature and cannot be regarded as anything more than general comment. Readers of this article should not act on the basis of this comment without consulting one of iLaw’s legal practitioners who will consider their particular circumstances