Ten Social Media “Don’ts” to Know in Your Colorado Divorce
As a family law attorney for the past six plus years, the amount of times that I have used posts on Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter, and Instagram as exhibits or evidence are astonishing. I have used these posts to show that my client should be the primary parent because a Mom posted negative things about her relationship with her child and things that could be considered neglect (for example, “oops, locked my child in my running vehicle again”). I have used posts to prove someone was not disabled as she claimed. She was asserting that she was unable to work because of physical issues, but I had pictures of her hiking, boating, working out, playing in the ocean, etc. And, for one last example, I have used posts to show that Dad was out drinking and partying instead of caring for his children, as he asserted. Not only have I used social media to advocate for my client and his or her case, but Opposing Counsel has used the same types of posts against my clients.
If you are considering a divorce, or are engaged in litigation for any type of family law matter (contempt, restraining orders, allocation of parental responsibilities, adoption, etc), you need to take extra caution when posting pictures of statements on social media. Remember the old saying that “less” is “more” and review the top ten tips below:
1) Assume that everything you do will be found. It usually only takes a couple of hours of research on the internet to find a wide variety of posts, new and old, that a person has put out on the internet. Furthermore, a jaded spouse or ex-spouse, may spend more than a few hours trying to find what you have put on the internet
2) Don’t post anything that you wouldn’t want your judge, or your grandma, to see. As stated above, if it is out there, opposing counsel or your ex will likely find it. When you post something, make sure it is something your grandma would approve of–if it meets this test, it will likely be okay for the judge to see as well.
3) Live your life as if cameras are constantly following you around.
4) If you are debating about whether or not to post something, just don’t do it. See number 3.
5) Don’t lie to the Judge. If you have not taken the advice in 1 through 4, don’t lie about it in Court. A lie can oftentimes be more detrimental than the post itself, because you will lose credibility with the Court. If you lose credibility with one issue, you may lose credibility with all issues.
6) Tell your lawyer about what may be out there. As your lawyer, we want to know the good, the bad, and the ugly about you. If we know about that inappropriate post on social media (or anything else relevant to your case), we can prepare for it, diffuse it’s impact, and otherwise perform damage control. If we learn about something for the first time while you are testifying about it on the stand, we may not be able to help you.
7) If you are have filed for divorce, you may not be able to remove what is already posted in social media. Talk about the legal consequences of removing things from the internet with your attorney before you do so.
8) Don’t underestimate the power of social media evidence in the courtroom. Judges are humans too. They usually are aware that what you post on social media is closer to the truth, than what your attorney wrote for you in a divorce pleading.
9) Don’t think you can fake something on social media for your case. If you are posting things on social media that aren’t true, and a witness can testify against your post, this will go towards your credibility. As stated in number 5, credibility is very important. Again, less is better!
10) Don’t assume you know what you can and cannot do in social media. Even if you think you know what is best, consult with a family law attorney as to some of the consequences of social media posts, text messages, and e-mails before you post something.
In summary, less is more when it comes to social media and divorce. Social media posts can be like a goldmine for family law attorneys—don’t be on the wrong end of this! If you have any questions, contact an attorney. The Hulse Law Firm offers free consultations; to set one up, please call (720) 480-2247.