A prestigious legal group suggests that you consider stopping all social media postings and communications with all of your contacts during the duration of a divorce or child custody proceeding in Virginia and other states. According to the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, a poll of its members revealed near unanimous agreement that some of the material posted on Facebook and other social media, including through cell phones and all digital devices, would have a great likelihood of turning up as evidence against the poster in a contested divorce or child custody proceeding. The warning applied to all text message from all sources.
This was particularly true and potentially very damaging with respect to child custody matters. The divorce lawyers who were polled indicated that just about every contested custody trial contained evidence that one or both of the parties posted material online, in the form of one or more of the following: email, social media messages, photos, text messages and instant messaging. In many situations, the parent did not appear to understand the danger of publishing personal feelings, documents, and other material about their personal or business lives. The expressions could also be quite damaging in divorce, alimony, support and equitable property distribution matters where parties gave opinions on how valuable their property was and even seemed to boast about how much money they made.
To add fuel to a potentially raging fire, some individuals made a public spectacle of their personal interests, including carrying on liaisons with new romantic interests online. Lawyers now always check an opponent’s social media pages in those cases where the divorce or custody matter is viewed as being contentious. Although fault is not a major issue in most divorces under modern laws, it is still true that some postings could at the least be shown to indicate bad judgment by the individual. Of course, this type of material can be twisted against the parent easily in any kind of child custody or even a visitation inquiry.
There was a consensus that people create an imagined cloak of safety in connection with their habitual, daily use of the electronic airwaves to send their personal and social thoughts. They actually convince themselves subconsciously to ignore the obvious dangers and to comfort themselves in a false safety net that does not exist. When the dangers to a divorce, support, or child custody matter are ultimately pointed out or realized, it may be too late because the communication may have already been recorded or copied by the other side.
Furthermore, most digital information that people thought was deleted could still be obtained from their hard drives through a discovery request. Divorce lawyers in Virginia and other states routinely counsel their clients to be careful with their digital communications. Family law lawyers prefer to see their clients cease all social media and electronic communications until the dust settles, and the contentious matters are fully terminated by court order.