Facebook and Your Divorce
Your Facebook account can be a treasure trove of information about you: what you like, what you do for fun, where you go, and whom you’re with. Sometimes, your posts can be used against you in your divorce case. Did you know there’s a way to obtain a complete copy of your Facebook data? A complete copy of your Facebook data includes the following information:
- A list of all your friends
- All of your photographs, profile pictures
- All of your Facebook Messenger messages
- All of your postings including status updates, live posts, likes, shares, and check-ins.
- All posts that you have deleted.
That’s some scary stuff. Because Facebook data is so voluminous, an attorney preparing a case trial can easily pick and choose from among your Facebook posts to depict you as a party animal, an unfit parent, a workaholic, or a flirtatious spouse. Consider how a judge or jury might view the following Facebook status posts.
Poor Susie Parker (not her real name)
- Activity: drinking wine with the girls tonight. #GNO #vino #momsnightout
- Likes: 27 posts by John Smith (her former high school boyfriend, not his real name).
- Status: I’m feeding my children cookies for dinner because I’m #FeelingTired. #chocolateisavegetable
- Status: Bought only a box of Cheerios and a big bottle of wine at the grocery store! #notadulting
- Profile Pic: Middle finger and a tube top. (Later deleted).
Rowdy David Lewis (not his real name)
- Status: Donald Trump is right about Muslim immigrants. #buildawall #notapeacefulreligion
- Activity: Working late. #allaboutthebenjamins
- Activity: Carrying his gun to his kid’s soccer game. #nra #constitutionalrights
- Status: Women can be so irrational. #thattimeofthemonth #bitchiscrazy
- Location: At the driving range. #anywherebuthome
David and Susie might be lovely people who are good, involved parents. But, a carefully skewed presentation of their Facebook posts can make them seem less than perfect. An opposing attorney can use these posts to create a trial narrative: Mom drinks too much wine and spends money frivolously. Dad doesn’t think the rules apply to him and spends too much time away from his family. The snippets David and Susie have shared on Facebook could make the difference in their cases for custody, property division, child support or alimony.
The takeaway: Be careful about what you post on social media, especially if you are contemplating a divorce. You may not be able to “undo” the posts you’ve already made (especially if your spouse is taking notes and building his/her case) but you can try to compensate. Post positive images. Say nice things. Don’t glamourize negative behaviors.
If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.