Social media has become an integral part of our society, and many Virginians use multiple social media platforms on a daily basis. While social media is a great way to show your feelings, thoughts, and activities to friends and family around the world, your posts could come back to haunt you in a divorce proceeding.
Social Media and Divorce
Even if you take steps to make your social media profiles and posts “private,” your spouse and their legal counsel could still obtain and use your social media presence in your divorce proceedings. You and your spouse probably have mutual connections, each of which could provide access to your posts. All kinds of social media posts, from job announcements to text threads, photos to video blogs, have been used in divorce cases in Virginia.
Are Social Media Posts Admissible in VA?
Generally, social media posts can be admitted in divorce proceedings in Virginia. However, you or your spouse will need to prove that the other spouse authored the post to admit a social media post into evidence. The ease of proving authorship can vary depending on the social media platform.
Some sites like Facebook or LinkedIn attach the real names of users to the profile. So if your spouse presents posts from a profile with your name and photo on it, the court may presume that you authored the posts from the account, especially if you acknowledge your ownership of the account. For sites where user profiles are less identifiable or if multiple people have access to a social media profile, lawyers would need to demonstrate other factors such as the content or timing of the post to indicate authorship.
How It Could Affect the Outcome
If your social media posts are introduced into your divorce proceeding, it could affect the outcome. Social media might affect:
- Spousal support – If you try to argue for a lower imputed income to determine how much spousal support you should pay your spouse, a post from a professional networking or social media website that shows your current job position could be used against you. An attorney might combine the post with other data on the internet to ascertain an estimate of your salary. This could result in higher support than you wanted and possible sanctions if the court finds you were dishonest.
- At-fault divorce – While most spouses choose to proceed with a no-fault divorce, some couples proceed through an at-fault divorce. That’s where one spouse alleges that the other engaged in one of the statutory grounds for divorce, such as adultery. Social media posts that indicate infidelity could be used to support the grounds for divorce.
- Child custody – Child custody is often one of the most contentious issues in a divorce. If you go on social media to insult your spouse, discuss your divorce, or argue over child custody, it could affect the child custody arrangement. If you post photos or videos of alcohol or drug use, courts may look unfavorably upon the conduct when determining a child custody arrangement and parenting time schedule.
How a Lawyer Could Help
A Virginia divorce attorney from Deering Hedrick can help you protect your rights and interests in a divorce by:
- Offering a dedicated, tailored approach to legal representation aimed at achieving your goals
- Guiding you through the divorce process from beginning to end
- Ensuring you understand your legal options and what to expect at each stage
- Pursuing a fair and efficient resolution through a negotiated settlement
- Advocating for your and your children’s rights and interests in court and at trial if necessary
If you’re going through a divorce and are worried about the effect that social media posts may have, call or contact Deering Hedrick today for a free, confidential consultation. Find out how an experienced family law attorney can help you through this difficult process today.