Social media influences everything these days, from pop-culture to even divorce. To elucidate this point, simply try to find one person in your family, or among your friends, or peers at work that does not have a Facebook account. It is everywhere, unavoidable, and ineluctable. The courtroom is not immune to its presence either. When divorce is involved, the question of electronic evidence, and social media evidence, in particular, comes into play in various ways. Modern relationships fall hazard to the sometimes illicit goings-on of spouses that end up publicized for all the world to see.
Attorneys have to account for these modern times and the Facebook or Instagram posts. Instagram has become the new forerunner of posts into the personal lives of parties. People must become aware that once a divorce opens up on Court the social media accounts become public record. That is to say that they provide an instant insight into happenings of the parties real personal lives and their true feelings about one another and what they are hiding from the divorce proceedings and the court.
The numbers don’t lie here. Social media is affecting relationships and being brought to bear on divorce litigation in serious and important ways. For a lawyer to effectively use (or defend against) social media evidence in a divorce case, he or she needs to understand both the ramifications of admitting such evidence and the legal precedent therein.
In general, a spouse’s posts on social media platforms are admissible as evidence in the United States during divorce proceedings, given that they are not procured illegally. However, what is illegal is subject to interpretation because Judges will look at the social media accounts if there are issues of domestic violence or there are health safety and welfare issues of the children involved in a divorce. In the same way, spouses are not legally permitted to come by those same posts via “hacking” or other equivalently nefarious means.
All that being said, posts or photos that are made public are able to be seen or inspected by anyone in the world with an account on that platform. Instagram along with facebook has a blocking ability so that people cannot access these social media accounts. This does offer some protection to the privacy rights of a divorcee however, other people who have access to those accounts can offer the evidence if they so choose. That material is (perhaps obviously) fair game to be admitted as evidence for or against someone. Further, if a spouse’s social media contact (or “Friend”) decides to re-post or re-share a photo or text post, those secondary posts might then be seen by an ex, in which case they can legally employ them in court.
States will differ in how social media posts are admitted and employed during a divorce trial. In California, posts on social networking platforms are admissible as evidence, may prove that someone did not comply with a protective order, prove financial status through photographic evidence, affect cases involving custody of children, and much else.