It might sound scary, but Facebook has become an inextricable part of your everyday lives. And if Facebook CEO’s Mark Zuckerberg’s testimony before the Senate Committee last month is any indication, we should probably be at least a little careful about what we share on the leading social media platform.
This is especially true if you are currently going through a divorce, child custody, alimony, or any other family law case. That is because whenever you share something on your Facebook page – messages, photos, posts, videos, etc. – it is all up for grabs and considered “discoverable” in family court proceedings.
Sharing your thoughts or day-to-day activities on Facebook can play a cruel joke on your success in family court. Similarly, keeping track of what your ex or spouse is sharing on his/her social media account can help you win the case proving that he or she is lying, has a problem with alcohol or drugs, spends alimony or child support money inappropriately, cheating on you, does not comply with the terms in your child custody agreement and/or can be considered dangerous for your child.
Our Salt Lake City family law attorney at the Ault Legal says that Facebook – and any other social media site, for that matter – can become a treasure trove of evidence that can either ruin or help resolve your case.
Examples of how Facebook can ruin or help your case
- A mother shows Facebook photos of the other parent – and those photos were shared by that parent – showing him partying at a bar and getting drunk even though this was the day he was supposed to be with his child.
- A man presents Facebook photos of his ex-wife, who claimed alimony because she does not have enough money and cannot get back to work to earn a living, showing the woman having the time of her life at a girls-only night out drinking fancy champagne and eating expensive food – or the photos of her spending a costly vacation abroad.
- A mother shows Facebook postings proving that the father of their child was actually working in another city on the day he was supposed to watch their child, as agreed upon in their child custody agreement.
- A husband proves that his wife’s allegations of domestic violence were false by showing Facebook messages from her threatening him to lie about domestic violence out of spite.
- A custodial parent did not allow the non-custodial parent to spend the day with their child by claiming that the child was not feeling well. The non-custodial parent then presents Facebook photos from the custodial parent’s account showing the child doing just fine and even outside that day to prove that the other parent is trying to obstruct the relationship between him/her and the child.
Examples of how Facebook can serve as a goldmine of evidence in a family law case are infinite. It is true what they say: when you post anything on your Facebook account, you automatically assume the risk that whatever you post may be used against you. And this goes beyond your public photos and postings on your timeline, as private messages and the photos or videos you share via private messaging are also considered “discoverable” in family court in Salt Lake City and elsewhere in Utah.
Also, do not forget that Facebook keeps a copy of everything you have done on Facebook. The social media platform, which was in the center of a user data privacy scandal last month, keeps track of every time a user logs in, from what location a user logs in, and the approximate latitude and longitude coordinates, among other revealing data.
Both public and private data from your Facebook account can become invaluable and critical pieces of evidence in family law cases, which is why many people choose to delete their Facebook accounts in an attempt to NOT provide compromising information. But deleting your Facebook account amid a family law proceeding – when the family court has a reason to believe that your Facebook page contains valuable evidence for the case – can be viewed as you destroying or tampering with evidence.
Therefore, if you are currently going through a family court battle, our Salt Lake City family law attorney advises you to deactivate your Facebook account until your case has been resolved and finalized, or at least discipline yourself to not share or write on your Facebook anything that could discredit, invalidate or ruin your case.