Going through any family law action is an extremely emotional experience that may make you throw your decision-making skills out the window. Recently, we have seen parties release some of these emotions by posting on Social Media (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, etc.). While social media is a fun way to share your life with your friends or followers, it should not be used to discuss what is going on with your divorce or paternity case.
You should be very careful of what you post on social media during your family law case. Nothing that you post on social media is private and it may be used against you in the legal process. While you may have your account on “lockdown” or “private” that does not always mean that your account is, in fact, private. Friends, family members, or followers can screenshot your account and send your “private” posts to the other party and their attorney.
Below, I am going to discuss some things to ABSOLUTELY NOT POST on your social media accounts during your pending divorce, paternity or post-judgment proceeding.
- Anything to do with your legal case.
Remember this is a highly stressful time and you may not be in the clearest state of mind, so what you post, while it may make perfect sense to you, could be taken out of context and could potentially cause you more problems than you intended. Anything that you post on social media can be used against you in your proceeding, no matter how you intended the post to be conveyed.
2. Bad mouthing the other party, making threats and/or using profanity.
You may think that bad mouthing the other party may embarrass them into “giving in” to your wants, but in reality, the court may deem you as abusive, harassing, unreasonable or uncredible. In fact, if you make threats against or negative statements about the other party during the proceeding, that may be grounds for the other party to file a harassment injunction against you.
Threats to judicial officials (Judges/Commissioners), guardian ad litem and opposing counsel, can be criminal felony charges under Wisconsin Statute Section 940.203. Think twice before posting anything that could be construed as a threat to anyone who is involved in your court proceeding, especially the other party.
3. Additional income or side jobs.
If you are in a child support or divorce proceeding and you claim to be unable to pay the other party and you post a picture of your recent trip to Turks & Caicos, the court may infer that you have funds available to pay support, property division payments, or attorney fee contributions. If you claim that you are unable to seek employment for reasons and are unable to pay the other party, please do not post on Facebook that you have an alternative income stream such as a cash only business. Not only could the court impute an income to you, but the court will make you verify that income and could lead to possible tax implications.
4. Drugs and/or partying.
Posts of you partying or doing drugs may be used against you during your proceeding to show that you are an unfit parent. For example, do not post pictures of you drinking on days that you are scheduled to have placement of your children. This could ultimately lead to you losing placement time of your children and could potentially have other legal ramifications against you.
It may be best to take a break from social media while your case is pending, or to have a neutral party such as a friend review any posts you want to make.
Overall, it is best to take a step back from social media during your legal proceeding, because the consequences of one negative or questionable post, may outweigh any gratification from making the post.