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May 20, 2024

The Impact of Social Media During a Divorce

In the United States, 2.4 per 1,000 people get divorced, and those numbers keep going up. With these rising rates, the impact of social media during a divorce becomes ever more prominent, and it’s crucial to understand how social media activity can affect the results of divorce proceedings.

How Social Media Affects Divorce Rates and Proceedings

There are five major grounds for divorce according to the South Carolina Code of Laws, Section 20-3-10:

  • Adultery
  • Desertion for one year or more
  • Physical cruelty
  • Habitual drunkenness, including that caused by the use of any narcotic drug
  • When the marital partners have lived separately without cohabitation for one year or more and either or both partners seek divorce

So, what role, if any, does social media play in these five factors?

The primary role of social media in affecting divorce rates relates to adultery. People can cross marital boundaries on social media, sometimes leading to infidelity, which is one of the top reasons couples get divorced. While “digital infidelity” is often viewed as causing less harm than nondigital affairs, it can still impact marriage and ultimately lead to divorce.

As more people jump onto various networks to share their emotions and experiences, divorce lawyers see the true impact of social media during divorce proceedings — evidence. When people share on public platforms, they rarely consider the legal implications of their actions. If they’re too open about their private lives, their ex-partners may scour through their posts to find proof of the person’s infidelity, lavish lifestyle, substance misuse or any other grounds for divorce.

Credibility of Using Social Media in Divorce Court

A common misconception is that social media can’t be used as evidence in court since it is personal. While sensitivity issues could arise when digging for evidence on digital platforms, social media posts are still legally allowed as an expression of prosecutorial power. However, establishing credibility in the age of algorithms and artificial intelligence (AI) could present a challenge — especially when determining real vs. AI deep fake posts.

So, while social media messages and posts may only count as supporting evidence, they’re still admissible in court. For example, if a spouse refuses to release social media texts or posts that could be used as supporting proof to establish adultery in court, a divorce attorney can subpoena the information. With this in mind, you should be wary of how you use social media during divorce.

READ  Child Custody & Visitation Law in South Carolina

Understanding Privacy Considerations

One case sums up the role of social media in the court regarding privacy considerations. In the case of Zimmerman v. Weis Markets, Inc., the court ordered Zimmerman to provide investigators with his social media credentials, proving that the right to obtain evidence outweighs privacy interests in some cases.

The Zimmerman v. Weis Markets, Inc. scenario could play out in a divorce case where one partner refuses to provide their social media details. Admissibility of evidence ultimately depends on whether it’s relevant to finding proof, whether privacy concerns infringe on the other party’s right to obtain evidence, and whether the evidence is authentic.

Defining the Impact on Negotiations

Negative social media activity during a divorce, such as posting pictures of romantic endeavors with another person, can impact the negotiation process and reduce the chances of a fair and respectful resolution. Divorcing spouses may also be liable to pay more alimony or child support if they post brand-new luxury purchases or share information about recent financial achievements on networks like LinkedIn.

Legal Consequences of Using Social Media During Divorce Proceedings

You should be wary of how you use social media during divorce. If you’re not careful, social media can undermine your divorce and affect your chances of a fair settlement. Posts about your personal life, such as expensive trips and parties, aren’t the only things that can be used against you.

Defamation Charges

Defamation involves making a statement about another person that is unfair or untrue and will likely harm their character or reputation. Libel is a type of defamation that involves permanent defamation, and social media makes it easy to commit this injustice. Remember, the internet is forever. Your digital footprint can be considered libelous if you share negative things on platforms like Instagram and X.

Harassment Charges

Around four in 10 Americans have experienced online harassment, which falls into six forms:

  • Physical threats
  • Stalking
  • Sustained harassment
  • Sexual harassment
  • Purposeful embarrassment
  • Offensive name-calling

Another impact of using social media during a divorce occurs when one party speaks ill of or threatens another partner on a particular platform. This behavior can form grounds for cyberstalking and online harassment. It’s advisable to avoid messaging an ex on social media platforms and keep all necessary communications in person, with lawyers present. Additionally, messaging or sharing other content in the presence of a restraining order or divorce proceedings can be considered harassment unless otherwise agreed.

READ  How Social Media Can Undermine Your Divorce

What to Do When Using Social Media During a Divorce

While your lawyer will usually advise you to stay off social media during the waiting period for divorce, the choice is yours to make at the end of the day. If you believe maintaining a social media presence will help you navigate life after your divorce or you can’t get off social media without negatively impacting your career, health or quality of life, then feel free to keep using your favorite networks. Here are some things to do when using social media during divorce proceedings:

  • Limit public access to your account.
  • Inform friends and followers not to mention your ex-spouse.
  • Remove the ex and their friends and family.
  • Consult with your divorce lawyer if you aren’t sure of a post.

What to Avoid When Using Social Media During a Divorce

If you’re unsure about any particular social media post, it’s important to ask your divorce lawyer questions, as navigating these platforms during divorce can be tricky. Here are some things to avoid doing when opting to keep social media accounts active:

  • Refrain from posting pictures of partying, drinking or consuming illegal substances.
  • Do not show romantic or sexual content from your personal life.
  • Refrain from speaking negatively about your ex or sharing posts to attack them.
  • Do not attempt to message the ex or their friends and family.
  • Do not delete any posts or messages unless your lawyer advises you to.

Talk to Lauren Taylor Law Today

Lauren Taylor Law specializes in divorce, child support, child abuse, adoption and other family law areas. We offer experienced representation throughout the divorce process, and you’ll be guided every step of the way. Our testimonials speak for themselves, and we care deeply about finding our clients the justice they deserve. Contact us today to work toward finding a fair resolution for your legal matters.