OCTOBER 2019: Technology Guide
Dear Cassie: Are posts on social media ever relevant in a divorce or custody case?
Absolutely. The use of information from social media, including Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, is actually quite common in divorce matters. These posts can be relevant to child custody and parenting time; requests for alimony, or in opposition to such requests; and requests for child support, or in opposition to such requests.
For example, when the issues of alimony and child support are in dispute, social media posts could be relevant in addressing an obligor’s ability to pay and lifestyle, as well as an obligee’s need for support and lifestyle. A party who claims that he or she needs a heightened degree of support from the other party may be undermined by social media posts that detail discretionary purchases, entertainment, and travel on his or her part. Similarly, a party who claims he or she cannot pay support should be aware that posts of new purchases he or she has made, such as a new vehicle, may undermine that claim.
When custody is disputed, social media posts can also be relevant. For example, posts that reveal drug or alcohol use can impact that parent’s rights to custody. Similarly, posts in which one parent attacks the character or actions of the other parent can call into question the first parent’s ability to cooperate with the other parent and credibility. In particularly egregious cases, postings about the other parent could be construed as harassment and an act of domestic violence.
Any person going through a dispute involving alimony, child support, or custody should think about whether they would want the judge in their case to review their posts before he or she makes it. If you have a public social media page, keep in mind that your page can be viewed and accessed by not only the opposing party and his or her lawyer, but also the judge.
If you are dealing with the issue in which social media posts impact your matter, you should seek the advice of matrimonial counsel.
Have a divorce and family law question for Cassie? Submit your question to firstname.lastname@example.org for consideration in the next edition of “Ask Cassie.”
Cassie Murphy is a divorce and family law Partner with the Law Offices of Paone, Zaleski & Murphy, with offices in Red Bank and Woodbridge.