Can Social Media Hurt My Virginia Divorce?
A lot of people turn to social media in times of happiness, sadness, and certainly frustration. It seems innocent to fire off an emotionally charged status update and then forget all about it days later. However, if you’re going through a divorce in Virginia, you need to be mindful of your social media habits and how they can negatively impact your divorce.
While it may seem like a great idea to just go back and delete everything from your past, nothing ever completely disappears, and the other side can make the argument that you deleted posts to hide evidence of wrongdoing.
Tips for Using Social Media During a Divorce
Ideally, refraining from posting anything on social media while your divorce is pending is the best course of action to take. However, if you cannot eliminate all social media use, you should keep some important tips in mind.
Start by locking down your profiles. Keep them private and do not share anything new with “public” settings. Again, remember anything can be taken out of context. A photo that appears innocent enough can be completely twisted and presented to the court with an entirely different back story.
Change all your passwords. Choose something that your soon-to-be ex won’t be able to guess. It’s important to change your passwords, especially if he or she knew them or had access to your accounts. Even if you change your privacy settings, but fail to change your password, he or she may could still log in and take screenshots of posts to share with their attorney.
Always remember that you likely have friends and family who are related to or friends with your spouse. Don’t assume that once you have your profile set to private you can still post something negative about your spouse or the divorce, as a “friend” may be monitoring your accounts for the other side.
How Social Media Can Hurt You
One of the most important ways social media can hurt you is if there are allegations of infidelity. If you started seeing someone after you were separated, your spouse may allege the affair started while you were still “happily married.” Virginia looks at adultery in divorces and it’s a Class 4 misdemeanor under Virginia Code § 18.2-365. It is required to show “clear and convincing” evidence that an affair took place. If there were inappropriate messages on your social media accounts that prove there was sexual intercourse during the course of the marriage, it could be very damning to a potential spousal support award.
If you have children, pay attention to not only your social media posts, but those of your kids as well. If you are the custodial parent during the divorce and your child is posting offensive and tasteless pictures or status updates, the other side could make the argument you cannot supervise your child now, let alone if you were granted full custody. If your spouse has the child during the pending divorce and there are photos of you partying, you can expect the argument that your lifestyle doesn’t support raising a child.
Retaining a Virginia Divorce Attorney
Retaining the right Virginia divorce attorney can make all the difference in a pending divorce matter. If you have questions about how social media can impact your divorce or need representation in a contested divorce, the attorneys at Whitbeck Cisneros McElroy PC are skilled family law attorneys in Leesburg. Contact our office today to schedule a consultation.