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Social media use has become nearly ubiquitous in Americans’ everyday lives. We post pictures, talk to old friends, and share our thoughts, often without pausing to pay attention to the ways that social media influences our behavior.
One way social media changed the nature of marriage forever is the ease with which we can now connect with people outside of in-person interactions. Unfortunately, some studies have indicated that social media usage has contributed to marital unhappiness and made it easier to have undetected extramarital affairs. On a state level, the divorce rate goes up with increased social media usage.
The short answer is: Yes. During a contested divorce, you are under the rigorous supervision of the court, and your behavior may be scrutinized even if it seems out of context. Things that you post on social media can be used as evidence to determine whether or not you are telling the truth regarding an issue under consideration by the court. Even if you are not “friends” with or “following” your spouse on social media websites, your spouse may still access information your social media pages.
To be used in court proceedings, social media posts must be relevant and authentic. Your attorney is qualified to assist you in determining whether social media posts are likely to be useful evidence. Divorce is an emotionally loaded procedure, and you may find something on social media that upsets you but is not necessarily useful as evidence in court. For example, if your spouse cheated on you and you found pictures of them online with their new partner, you would have reason to feel angry. However, Illinois is a no-fault divorce state, and adultery is usually not a factor that will affect divorce proceedings. One notible exception to this is when a spouse spends or uses significant assets during the affair. In this case, the non-spending spouse may have a right to reimbursement through a dissipation of assets claim.
You do not have to completely restrict yourself from social media during your divorce, but you should think twice about the information you make available to the outside world. Social media sites have privacy settings you can use to control what the public sees but these settings do not guarantee complete privacy.
Consider adjusting your settings so that random people, including friends of your spouse, cannot find you or dig up information on you. Make sure your photos, location, and other updates are private. Do not post about your divorce publicly, especially not to make angry or vengeful statements about your spouse. Avoid posting about large purchases, vacations, or other financial transactions. Do not post pictures involving drug or excessive alcohol use.
Getting divorced can be unpleasant and conflict is common. You can reduce the chances of unnecessary complications by playing it safe with social media. The attorneys at Martoccio & Martoccio are experienced with the potential impact of social media usage on divorce proceedings and can counsel you on best practices during your divorce. Contact our offices for a free consultation with a Hinsdale family law attorney. Call us today at 630-920-8855.