Can your Facebook posts be used against you in court? Absolutely. All too frequently we see clients held in contempt for bad-mouthing or threatening their current or soon-to-be former spouse on social media platforms, such as Facebook or Instagram. A picture is worth a thousand words, and pictures of that lavish Caribbean vacation you just took and posted online will be used against you to show the Court that you really can afford to make those alimony and child support payments. It should also go without saying that if you’re abusing alcohol or drugs and posting evidence of this online, you should expect those pictures to rear their ugly head in court when your spouse accuses you of bad parenting and wants to modify the Parenting Plan.
The internet is not a private place, and we tend to forget that our “friends” on these social media platforms may not necessarily be our actual friends. We live in an age where the internet has made it possible for anyone and everyone to voice their opinions, and if your “friend” does not agree with that particularly brutal character assassination you just posted of your Ex – you may be in trouble. In Chace v. Loisel, Jr., 170 So.3d 802 (5th DCA), the Fifth District Court of Appeal poignantly explained the nature of Facebook relationships as follows:
“The word “friend” on Facebook is a term of art. A number of words or phrases could more aptly describe the concept, including acquaintance and, sometimes, virtual stranger. A Facebook friendship does not necessarily signify the existence of a close relationship. Other than the public nature of the internet, there is no difference between a Facebook “friend” and any other friendship a judge might have.” Id. At 803-804.
Trust us when we say that you will regret that post you made about that “lying, cheating, son of a ______ who isn’t paying child support.” Posts and pictures can be downloaded and/or shared instantly (via text messages, e-mail, screenshots, etc.) by anyone who has access to your posts. Privacy settings do not prevent your friends or followers from sharing your posts. That same friend who commented and offered their unequivocal support for your cause can turn around in an instant and share that post of you slamming your Ex with the rest of the world.
In sum, make good choices. Think before you post. Once you hit “submit,” it’s game over. It may feel fantastic to vent to the virtual world your list of grievances against your Ex, but know that those 30 seconds of euphoria you felt when Facebook united behind your cause will likely result in you getting an expedited meeting with the Judge presiding over your case and that they most likely will not be pleased with your use of social media.
Long & Associates, P.A. represent clients in all areas of family law litigation. This article is not a substitute for legal advice tailored to a particular situation. Please contact Long & Associates, P.A. at 239-316-1600 or e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org to set a confidential appointment with one of our Naples Family Law attorneys today.