No matter your degree of involvement in the world of social media, few people consider the impact one’s digital presence can have on family law cases. While it’s common sense knowledge to avoid posting publicly about your spouse or family while you’re involved in a legal situation, there are plenty of other ways an errant visit to Facebook may come back to bite you in the future.
Photos of trips, purchases, or social events (especially with new girlfriends or boyfriends) can make a slam dunk family law case turn into an impossible task overnight. In this era of connected technologies continuing to encroach into real-world situations, legal cases – including family law cases – are increasingly being decided by aggregated data captured and stored by mobile devices, wearables, and social media metadata.
How to Protect Yourself
While it’s true that many legal cases can change as a result of new or discovered evidence on social media, there are plenty of steps you can take to ensure you don’t accidentally make things harder for yourself as a result of modern technology.
- Shut Down Each Account
Sometimes the most permanent solution is the best – at least until the smoke clears. Leading up to and during your family law case, it’s a wise move to remove your social media accounts from active use. It’s hardly a preventative measure if you already have incriminating activity on your Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter accounts, as this information can be captured for future reference, but deactivating those accounts will make the process more difficult in hindsight as well as helping you to resist the temptation to make additional posts while your situation unfolds.
- Ensure Strict Privacy Settings
Even if you choose to deactivate your accounts, it’s not a bad idea to revise your privacy settings on the sites you belong to. These settings can limit the number of people who can see your posts, comments, and photos, but that doesn’t mean someone in your friends or family won’t be able to access that information and pass it along to your spouse.
- Change Your Passwords
You should take care to change any passwords on personal accounts that your spouse or family members may have access to or knowledge of. After all, deactivating your account or changing your privacy settings is meaningless if your spouse/partner knows your password.
- Don’t Post About the Case – Or Anything – While Your Case is in Progress
Before you comment, like, tag a picture, or check in to your favorite bar, think twice about how that action may be used against you in a family law case. Certainly it would be considered unwise to post any information, opinion, or statements related to your ongoing legal matters, your spouse, or your children.
- Be Transparent with Your Attorney
Your attorney is on your side. If you know of potentially damaging information on your social media profiles, it’s important to disclose it as quickly as possible. Anything that could be used against you in a legal situation should be taken into consideration so you can work toward a plan to deal with the information and minimize your risk of exposure during future legal proceedings.
If you’re concerned about how your current or former social media presence can affect your ongoing family law case, it’s important to speak with a qualified attorney to gauge your ability to deal with the data contained within these profiles. For these and other issues related to family law, contact David Huber’s office in Seattle for a free consultation on your case.