Most people are familiar with the famous opening line of the Miranda warning that police read during an arrest: "You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say or do can and will be used against you..." While no such warning is given to spouses approaching divorce, if a warning was given, it would probably state: "You have the right to remain silent. Anything you post on Facebook or other social networking websites can and will be used against you in a court of family law."
Facebook and other social networking websites such as Twitter, YouTube, MySpace and LinkedIn often provide divorce lawyers with an ample amount of damaging information which profoundly helps or hurts their clients' cases. In a recent poll, over 80 percent of the members of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers reported having used information found on social networking websites during divorce cases.
It is important to remember that what is posted on social networking websites isn't necessarily private. For instance, if a person's Facebook settings are set to "public," anyone with access to the Internet can view that page. However, even if the settings are set to "private," most user agreements allow the websites to reveal the contents of the profiles/web pages if served with a subpoena.
Here are a few tips for Facebook or other social networking website users who are facing divorce:
- Set privacy settings to private so that only your friends and not the general public can view your profile
- Do not post derogatory comments about your ex-spouse
- Do not post pictures or comments about any new purchases or vacations
- Do not post pictures or comments that you would not want your kids or the family law court to see
- If you need to "vent" about the divorce process, speak with a friend one-on-one, do not do it over social media
Just because a comment may seem innocuous to you, does not mean that it will appear innocuous to a judge. Carefully consider everything you post on social networking websites and contact an experienced family law attorney if you are going through a divorce.