Tuesday, December 20, 2011

How Does Social Media Effect a Family Law Case

By: Steven D. Fichtman

In this digital age, we’ve all gotten used to sharing a lot about our lives on our social media accounts. But there are some things that should never be posted! If you’re staying home “sick” from work, don’t talk about your actual whereabouts; if you’re going out of town, don’t tell everyone when your house will be vacant; and don’t post about your ongoing family law case.

There is a good chance your spouse will check your social media accounts and, now, opposing lawyers and even judges are getting in on the act. It is common place in today’s family law cases for participants to learn more information about you from your social media pages. Sometimes, a person’s Facebook account can provide enough information to lose their family law case.

Often a party will not need to look too far to find messages about a spouse, lawyer, or even the Judge. These messages can be easily saved, printed, and used against you. A good rule of thumb is not to post statements that you would not want your mother to read (or, at the very least, your judge).

Another issue we have run into is that individuals involved in family law cases sometimes post embarrassing photographs of themselves which can also be used in court. While a photograph from a party you went to six months ago may sound like a great image to include in your profile, that same image can be used by an opposing lawyer against you. During your family law case it is not a good idea to post photographs of yourself that you would not want a judge to see. Obviously it will be hard to convince a judge what a wonderful parent you are – even if it’s true – when there are photographs of you intoxicated, incapacitated, or in an uncompromising position available for anyone to see.

The most egregious mistake you can make is to post information you have discussed in communication with your lawyer. Often times in your family law case there is a strategy adopted from the onset which will be used throughout the case and ultimately through to trial. Clients sometimes post those private communications and even trial strategy on their social media accounts. Needless to say, this can be devastating to your family law case as it will not only encourage your spouse to change their behavior, but the opposing lawyer will also learn your strategy and be prepared to defend against it. When information is posted for everyone to see, it may have a devastating impact on your case.

So if you’re involved in a family law case, before you post about your spouse, children, opposing counsel, judges, or communications you had with your lawyer, understand that social media can easily jeopardize your case long before you ever step foot into a courtroom.