Social media makes it extremely easy to find information about other people’s lives. For example, Facebook allows its members to access other peoples’ photos, daily updates, and favorite hobbies, among other things. This is great when you want to see the pictures that your mother put on Facebook of your grandmother’s 70th birthday party, but be wary; people can also see the pictures from those uninhibited nights out that you do not want anyone to see.
While it is true that Wisconsin is a no-fault divorce state, meaning neither party needs to show wrongdoing to get a divorce, there are still consequences for wrongdoings, if there are children involved in the divorce proceedings. If custody and placement are at issue, reckless photos and “updates” on these sites can be compelling pieces of evidence for the court. Updates about expensive new purchases or vacations might add fuel to an argument that one party has the ability to pay more in support.
More and more clients are asking us if we can use inappropriate Facebook or Twitter postings and pictures against the opposing party in court. The answer is yes. For example, if we represent a client who has a picture printed from a social media site that the child’s mother does drugs in her home, this can be used as evidence to help show that court that she is unable to provide a safe environment for your child. Pictures and documentation exposing reckless (and illegal) behavior like this can be used in custody and placement arguments. Even less egregious posts can show bad decision making by a parent or demonstrate a lack of credibility in Court.
All online posts, emails, tweets, texts, etc. can be used as evidence in Court!
It has been said numerous times before, and will be reiterated here: what you post on the internet and on social media sites is NOT private; no matter how strict your privacy settings are. If you choose to post something to a public forum, you forgo the argument about what you intended.
So when it comes to social media sites, remember what your parents used to tell you: if you cannot say anything nice, don’t say anything at all. And also remember the slightly modified lawyers version: If you cannot say anything nice, do NOT put it in writing, and certainly do not put it on a social media site.