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SOCIAL MEDIA AND FAMILY LAW

Posted by: In: Newsletter Archive 25 Mar 2015 Comments: 0

BY MICHAEL S. GLASSFORD

(Please understand that the answers to these questions are general in nature and may not cover every individual situation.)

This is the age of technology. The digital world allows us to be the stars of our own shows and social media is our broadcaster. We are constantly posting to Facebook, YouTube, Twitter or e-mailing and sending texts. To make matters worse, social media tells us that to stay relevant we must constantly post new content. Whether that is true or not, we have bought into it, big time.

With a few swipes and clicks, in the store, at the office or sometimes in the car, we feed our followers information divulging where we are, what we are doing and the people with us. We want to share our happy moments, our funny situations, and the weird stuff we come across on a daily basis.

We post, “We just got to Florida and check out the water!” *picture included*. But what we really just broadcasted is: “My house is empty for at least a week.”

Alternatively, you post “Just got my third strike in a row. TURKEY! I love hanging with the guys.” However, what someone just read is: “My wife and kids are home alone.”

The amount of unfiltered evidence shared during times of anger, fear, love, and even hate collects on-line for anyone to find. Posts like this reveal some of the most private aspects of our lives, because we feel inclined to share them. Just like the examples above, we don’t always consider the full extent of what we post might mean.

More and more it is becoming common practice for professionals to use Social Media as a vetting tool. Law enforcement monitors potential suspects, prosecutors and probation officers keep tabs on probationers. So why wouldn’t divorce lawyers look up their client’s partners on social media?

One click, that’s all.

And your entire life is now downloaded onto the divorce attorney’s hard drive, forever.

Evidence like this can establish a state of mind, facts relevant to divorce and much more. It is not just a one-way street. Attorneys are often blind-sided by the other side with this information because their client forgot to mention it or worse didn’t think it mattered. This information can destroy a trial, settlement negotiations and ultimately families.

I have had several clients tell me that they don’t write anything like that on social media. However, words can be taken out of context. Painted with that negative brush, things can go downhill rather quickly regardless of their true intent.

If you find yourself in a divorce situation, consider the following:

  1. Change your password. Then change it again. Your spouse knows you. They know things about you that will help them guess at your passwords. Go outside the norm to create a new one. (On that note, don’t be guilty of breaking into your spouse’s accounts. It is against the law.)
  2. Go on a Social Media Holiday. Become a passive observer and don’t add fuel to the fire.
  3. Change your privacy settings on social media to the enhanced level. And know who your friends are that can see your posts.
  4. E-mail your posts to yourself before you publish them. Let a minute pass before you re-read it and ask yourself if that is something you want to put out there.

Be proactive and be safe.

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