Last Updated on January 5, 2023 by Benson Varghese
If you’re facing a divorce or child custody dispute, the last thing on your mind is what you’ve posted on Facebook or Twitter lately. But as the role of social media and the Internet continues to rise, so does its use as evidence in the courtroom. Here’s a look at the effects of social media in divorce cases in Texas.
Attorneys don’t have to try very hard to access publicly available posts, including comments, images, and videos shared on social media sites. It’s usually at their fingertips and this information could be used as evidence against you in court.
It’s not just the content of your social media feeds that is important. It’s also the embedded information that is connected to online apps. We’ll examine some examples and explain how social media in family court can negatively impact your case.
How can social media posts harm my divorce or family court case?
Anything incriminating can be used by the opposing party in Texas family court. Examples of social media posts that could harm your case include offensive comments, images, and hostility. Just as character witnesses can be called into family court for testimony, the contents of a person’s social media accounts can similarly help define their character to a judge. Even posts by children connected to a case could be used as evidence.
Should I delete social media accounts or posts?
If you’re facing a family law dispute, you might think it’s a smart move to delete social media posts or entire accounts with potentially incriminating information.
Not necessarily. You should consult your attorney before deleting anything. Opposing lawyers could view any deletions as an attempt to erase evidence. A skilled family law attorney will have a strategy for how to best handle your online history.
What else should I be concerned about?
The content of your social media feeds is not the only thing you need to be concerned about. The opposing attorney can use information such as your location, time stamps, and other encrypted data to help make their case against you.
It’s not just about what is on your feed, either. The social media feeds of friends and family that include photos or information about you or that could place you somewhere at a certain time could be detrimental.
Social media evidence gives attorneys specific details about their client and the opposing party. Be candid about your social media history with your attorney so they can properly prepare your case. No family law attorney wants to be caught by surprise by the opposing attorney because you didn’t divulge it to them beforehand.
Does attorney-client privilege include social media and email?
Written and verbal communication about a case between an attorney and their client is protected under attorney-client privilege. This includes email exchanges and private messages through social media apps. Remember, do not discuss your case with family or friends because it could be used against you in court. You don’t want your social media in divorce court.
How should you handle social media in divorce cases?
If you’re going through a divorce or custody battle, it’s important to ramp up your privacy regarding your social media accounts. You should turn on your privacy settings and decline friend requests from strangers. Refrain from commenting or tagging on others’ social media while your case is unresolved. It’s even wise to ask friends and family to avoid posting comments about you or your pending case.
Are the admissibility standards for social media evidence different?
No. The same standards for other forms of evidence also apply to social media evidence in Texas family court. The evidence must be relevant, authenticated, and can’t be hearsay.
Should you stop using social media during a Texas family law case?
Much of a family law attorney’s job is to protect clients from themselves. Prepared attorneys advise their clients on the best way to present themselves to the judge. That might mean recommending the client limit or stop social media communication until the case is resolved. It can’t be overstated: whatever is posted online hardly ever completely disappears and could be used as evidence.
How do attorneys use social media evidence in Texas divorce cases?
Social media posts, emails, texts, and other communications can be presented in Texas family court cases as photographs. Attorneys can use screenshots of the posts and messages in question as exhibits, and these exhibits need to be authenticated in court through testimony.
Can social media be used in Texas child custody cases?
In Texas child custody cases, social media posts can be used effectively to show the parental misgivings of one party. Examples could include posts from nightclubs, bars, or other adult establishments when they’re supposed to have the child. Such evidence could help restrict visitation and access or flip the primary conservatorship.
Judges also frown upon posts showing guns, drugs, or other illicit material.
The court focuses on what is in the child’s best interest. Texas family judges generally permit the information as long as the social media evidence is relevant to the dispute and appropriately authenticated. Even sarcastic comments on social media can be misconstrued and used against you, and the intent is often hard to discern in a social media post.
For example, exaggerating how much you had to drink or joking that you want to see your ex-spouse harmed could prove that you’re unstable or violent during a divorce or custody case.
Can social media posts help prove your spouse cheated?
Social media posts showing a spouse romantically involved with another person can be damaging evidence against them to prove specific fault grounds for divorce.
Proof of adultery could help sway a judge to award a larger portion of the community estate to the other party or alter the amount of spousal support.
Can social media affect how the court evaluates my income?
If one party argues that their spousal or child support obligations should be decreased, social media posts showing off a new luxury home, new car, or extravagant trip to Italy could weaken their case.
Worried about social media in divorce court? Call us.
Your social media history can be used against you during a divorce or child custody case. Varghese Summersett Family Law Group provides comprehensive representation for our clients to ensure the best possible outcome. We will not only help you minimize any issues with your social media history, but we’ll implement every available tool to use the opposing party’s social media history to your advantage. For a consultation, call us at 817-900-3220.