This was originally published in September 2015. It was updated and republished in October 2019.
When clients ask whether their social networking activity—Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Linkedin, etc.— can be used against them in a divorce or custody proceeding, an experienced Austin divorce lawyer will typically respond with a resounding “yes.”
It’s important to always remember two key factors with social media: Your posts are public, and the internet is forever. Your profile can affect your current job, future employment opportunities, and many other areas of your life, so this notion should come as no surprise. However, it’s important to understand exactly why social media and divorce are a bad combination.
Implications for Child Custody and Visitation
Texas law requires all decisions regarding custody and visitation to be in accordance with the child’s best interests. Courts will consider evidence from many different sources in determining what arrangement serves these interests, centering the analysis on each parent’s suitability to provide the child with a safe, stable, engaged life.
A Facebook picture depicting a parent drinking heavily, using, or partying with friends doesn’t reflect positively on that person’s ability to serve the child’s best interests.
Under Texas divorce law, a court will divide marital assets according to the interests of fairness and equity. If one party has evidence of adultery, he or she might be able to persuade the judge to deviate from this standard.
Social media can also be used to expose a cheating spouse, as it’s common for extramarital relationships to begin online.
The obligation to pay child support is partly based upon the non-custodial parent’s ability to pay. A person may try to shirk legal responsibility by concealing sources of income and diverting it away from costs related to raising a child.
With respect to this issue, social media can be deployed to expose deception concerning a parent’s employment prospects or earning potential. A social media platform that’s dedicated to professionals – such as LinkedIn – may reveal considerable information about income and earning potential. For example, Ben once used a Linkedin profile to illustrate the existence of a side business—and thus another source of income—that a party did not disclose in discovery.
Tips for Social Media and Divorce
To minimize the risk of social media being used against you, the smart move is to cease all social networking activity altogether. This does not mean you should “scrub” or delete your social networking profiles, however.
Once litigation has commenced, your social networking site becomes discoverable evidence. Deleting or altering the site could constitute destruction of evidence, which can result in you and/or your lawyer being sanctioned by the court. In other words, once litigation has begun, you have a duty to preserve evidence, including your social networking presence.
Set Up a Consultation with a Skilled Austin Divorce Attorney
Once you understand the association between social media and divorce, you’ll realize that it’s important to be cautious with your posts. It’s also essential to retain an experienced lawyer to represent you, so please contact the Law Office of Ben Carrasco, PLLC to speak with a member of our team.
You can set up a consultation at our Austin office by calling (512) 866-1131 or through our website. We can advise you on your rights and protect your interests as you work through the divorce process.