Social media activity can shed light on a person’s finances, fitness as a parent and honesty, which may have harmful impacts during divorce.
Given the ubiquity of social media, many people in Arkansas are not surprised to learn that social media activity now provides a common source of evidence during divorce proceedings. According to Forbes, as early as 2012, more than four out of five members of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers were reporting an increase in cases that utilized this form of evidence. Today, the use of this evidence may be even more common.
Despite recognizing the potential for social media activity to serve as evidence, many divorcing spouses may underestimate the impacts that this evidence can have. It’s important for Arkansas residents to understand just how social media activity may affect their divorces.
Social media activity can significantly affect the financial aspects of a divorce, such as marital property division and alimony, by providing insights into each spouse’s finances. As Forbes points out, statements, photos or other activity may indicate that a spouse has hidden or dissipated marital assets. Social media activity may also suggest that a spouse has misrepresented his or her income, liabilities or financial need.
Admissions or images on social media may not serve as conclusive forms of evidence. However, these materials may provide grounds for a spouse to question the other spouse’s statements in court, subpoena official records and ultimately uncover deceptions.
Impacts on custody
Divorcing parents should understand that their social media activity might also affect child custody and visitation arrangements. When awarding custody and visitation, family law judges in Arkansas weigh several factors to identify the arrangement that is in the child’s best interests. Parents may be less likely to receive custody if their activity on social media reveals any of the following:
• Lifestyle factors such as drug use that may result in an unsuitable home environment or upbringing
• Behaviors such as abuse that could physically endanger the child
• Indications that the parent may try to impede or cut off the child’s relationship with the other parent
Parents should also note that their own social media activity is not the only potential source of evidence. The activity of other people, including their own children, friends or significant others, might also be influential.
Other adverse effects
Social media activity can also harm a divorcing spouse’s prospects by suggesting that the spouse has deceived the court. For instance, social media activity may contradict the information that a spouse has previously provided in official statements. Additionally, according to Fox News, a spouse’s decision to delete social media activity may be interpreted as an attempt to hide evidence. In either case, spouses could be penalized through a settlement that favors the other spouse.
Avoiding unwanted outcomes
Given these risks, spouses can typically benefit from limiting or completely avoiding social media activity throughout the divorce process. Spouses may also want to ask people close to them to refrain from sharing any sensitive or personal information that could be used in divorce court.
The potential harmful effects of social media activity during divorce illustrate how easy it can be for spouses to make needless mistakes when navigating this process. To reduce the risk of accidental and potentially damaging missteps, divorcing spouses should consider seeking the assistance of an attorney. An attorney may be able to advise a spouse on protecting his or her interests while pursuing an advantageous final outcome.