Now more than ever before, lawyers in Custody, Support and Divorce cases are using postings by parties to these matters on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn and the like as tools to discredit parties in these cases. While Pennsylvania law is still developing in this area, many Family Court judges treat these postings as voluntary admissions to conduct which people might otherwise not wish be disclosed in these cases.
The following are some examples of Social Media used by this Law Firm in Family Law Cases:
- Support: Father maintained that he had no income, since he had been laid off from his most recent employment. However, on his Facebook page he had posted both pictures and a list of locations where he had provided disc jockey services, with dates of these events. The events included weddings, graduations, anniversary parties and the like. Based on this evidence, income was ascribed to the Father and a Support Order was entered.
- Custody: Mother’s Facebook page contained many pages of multiple contacts by Mother’s friends and acquaintances soliciting Mother to purchase both marijuana and prescription drugs from Mother. Mother obtained supervised visitation from the court, together with random drug testing. Father owned his own business and was alleging that income from his business was declining. Father filed to reduce his Support Order. However, on both Linkedin and on Facebook, Father had posted the vacations he had recently taken as well as a vacation that was pending. Also, he posted photographs of his newly restored sports car. No reduction in support was awarded.
- Divorce: Mother maintained that she had physical problems which were serious and that her health was declining. She alleged that she was having trouble walking and was both using a cane and a walker. However, her Facebook page had numerous photographs of her dancing at parties and events, as well as her both ice skating and skiing. In a Divorce matter, the health of a party is one of the factors the Court can consider in deciding what percentage of the marital assets each party will receive. Upon presenting these photographs, the marital assets were divided equally between Husband and Wife. Wife had been seeking 70% of the assets because of her alleged declining health.
Social media is proving to have a serious impact on your Family Law matters. We urge our clients to both stop posting on social media and to take down what has been posted or restrict access. A good rule to remember is that once something is on the Internet, it never goes away. If you are a party to a Support, Custody, Divorce or other Family Law matters, before you post, ask yourself: “What would a Judge in my case think of this posting?”
The simple answer is to stop posting altogether.