The use of social media is increasingly prevalent. In your divorce, emails and social media posts can form evidence and have lasting implications on the outcome of your case. What does this mean?
1. Assume a judge will see all of your social media posts. Judges do not know you personally. They have to rely on the evidence presented to them by lawyers and your oral testimony to make decisions about your case. When posting on social media, ask yourself what image am I portraying of myself with this post? How do you want a judge to see you? If you are a parent seeking a parenting order, does the post present you in a mature, responsible, and respectful light?
2. You can be cross examined by a lawyer on any statements you make on the internet, whether it be in an email, blog, or social media post. Your credibility can be attacked in court if you make a representation on social media that is inconsistent with a statement you make in an affidavit or in court. In cases where there is no strong objective evidence, preserving your credibility so the judge believes you is very important.
3. A post you make on social media can be taken out of context and used against you. Social media posts are limited by the medium in which they are presented. On twitter, you only have 280 characters to express an idea. You do not have the benefit of context, tone, body language, and facial expressions. Words can have dual meanings. So, while you may mean a post in one context, it could be read in another context.
In order to avoid problems in your case, it is best you avoid posting on social media until your divorce is resolved. If you need to post something on social media, take the following precautions:
1. Consult with your divorce lawyer prior to posting. If you must post on social media during your divorce case, the safest way to ensure a social media post does not hurt your case is to speak to your lawyer prior to posting.
2. Do not rant or attack your spouse. No matter how angry or upset you are, there is basically never a time that your divorce case will benefit from you expressing negative thoughts or feelings about your spouse on social media. In fact, it could negatively impact your case. If you need to let your feelings out, speak with a counsellor in private.
3. Stay positive. If you want to share something on social media. Keep it limited and positive, such as a nice photo of you and your child.
4. Make all of your accounts and posts private. Limit your exposure by making your social media accounts private and available only for your friends. It is also a good idea to go through your friends list and delete individuals with whom you don’t have a relationship with. However, even if your accounts are private, you could be ordered by the court to produce your private social media posts, so it is still important to take all precautions on your private account.
5. Do not write about your divorce, you could waive your solicitor client privilege. You have the right of confidentiality and solicitor client privilege. Do not risk waiving this privilege by writing about your divorce online.
Do not take legal advice from non-lawyers online. People on facebook groups who share advice based on their personal experiences are not qualified to give you legal advice. They do not know your specific circumstances and you do not know the circumstances of their case. Taking advice from a layperson could lead you down the wrong path and have lasting implications on your case.