What to Know about Using Facebook during a Virginia Divorce
During a contested divorce, the other side is looking for every advantage they can to use against you. One potential source of advantage is information obtained from social media, especially Facebook. Some people might decide to delete or deactivate their account during a divorce, which could present additional problems.
Here is what you need to know about using Facebook during a divorce.
Intentionally Deleting Information
Some people think that deleting photos and/or information prior to the divorce means it cannot be used against them during the divorce proceedings. That is not necessarily the case, and deleting something in advance of a hearing could make you look like you’re hiding it. There is a risk that the other side will allege something called spoliation of evidence. Essentially, spoliation of evidence is when a party is aware of possible litigation that might involve evidence, that if not preserved or destroyed, could interfere with the other party’s ability to prove a portion of their claim.
In Emerald Point, LLC, et al. v. Hawkins, et al., 808 SE2d 384 (Va. 2017), the Virginia Supreme Court determined someone can be charged with spoliation of evidence when there is “bad intent.” There should be support showing there was destruction of evidence or intentional loss to prevent its use in litigation.
In the event there is something on your Facebook that could affect your divorce, deleting it can only serve to work against you if asked why you deleted the post or photo in question.
It’s certainly tempting to post and show how good you’re doing to make your ex jealous. But posting photos to flaunt your new life could look like frivolous spending. This could lead to a reduction in alimony or property settlement. Before your divorce is final, both spouses’ incomes are deemed marital property. If one person uses marital funds on lavish vacations, the court might reduce that spending from your overall settlement.
Even if you don’t post something, someone could comment or post something involving you that also points to you blowing marital funds. Looking at your social media habits long before you are faced with the possibility of a divorce is important. Oversharing private details about your life online can pose security and safety risks.
Help Support Proof of an Affair
Virginia requires clear and convincing evidence to prove adultery. So, while photos of you and someone else who is not your spouse are not definitive proof, it can help establish a pattern and certainly help support any evidence that you were involved in a sexual relationship outside your marriage. And, if you are separated and seeing someone else, it could still be considered adultery in the eyes of the Virginia court.
Retaining a Virginia Family Law Attorney
If you are considering a divorce or your spouse has filed for divorce, you need a skilled Virginia family law attorney who will protect your rights and interests. Contact the attorneys at Whitbeck Cisneros McElroy PC. We have decades of experience handling all areas of family law. Contact us online or call our office at 703-997-4982 to schedule a consultation.