At the Benjamin Law Firm, we routinely handle divorces, paternity actions and modifications. If you are involved in a case such as this, it is very wise to restrict your use of social media in the time leading up to and during any litigation. Additionally, your use of other websites before and during the litigation can also impact your position in the law suit. Perhaps the best illustration would be through scenarios*. The bottom line is that in this day and age, anything you post can be used against you.
Scenario 1 – Wife pursuing dissolution from Husband with children.
Wife files for divorce from Husband alleging the marriage is irretrievably broken. Wife says that Husband shouldn’t see the children except on the weekends because she has always been the primary care-taker and Husband has been an absent father. Wife openly complains through posts on Facebook that Husband is a lousy father and that since she had the kids, they belong to her. Husband’s attorney uses the Facebook posts during his questioning of the Wife at trial. Court orders the parties to split their parenting time equally and denotes the Husband’s address as the children’s address for educational and mailing purposes and denies Wife’s request for child support. The Court strongly admonishes the Wife that should she continue her behavior, the parenting time for her may be reduced because she has not acted in the children’s best interest.
Scenario 2 – Husband leaves Wife and claims he shouldn’t pay maintenance
Husband files for divorce and denies that he should have to pay maintenance to Wife despite earning significantly more and having been married for over 20 years. Husband posts on Twitter that “She thinks she’s entitled” and then posts pictures of vacations he has taken on Instagram. Husband’s attorney, after having his client questioned about the posts in deposition, advises Husband to pay maintenance.
Scenario 3 – Father involved in Paternity Action – Mother denying him access to children
Father files a paternity action after an Administrative Decision orders him to pay child support. Father claims Mother denies him access to children and won’t allow him to see the children unless it is at his parent’s home. Mother produces for the Guardian ad Litem posts from the Father’s Facebook showing him using marijuana, attending parties and making disparaging comments about the Mother. Mother also supplies a copy of the Father’s profile from Plenty of Fish wherein he lists that he doesn’t have children and “hates to be tied down”. Guardian ad Litem recommends minimal visitation for the Father due to his demonstrated lack of judgment and concern for his children.
*All of the scenarios are fictional and overly simplified to provide information about how social media and website use can be detrimental to a litigant in the family courts.