Social Media and Divorce | Could my Posts be Used Against me?

Posted on: 7 mins read
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Lorraine Harvey

Partner, Family Law

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In the UK, 84.43% of the population are active social media users. So, it’s perhaps not surprising that social media has become more prevalent in divorce cases.

One example of this in the news is the divorce of actors Alice Evans and Ioan Grufford. The couple announced that they would be splitting up in January 2021 and since then Alice has used multiple social media platforms to make allegations against her ex.

Most of Alice’s posts centre around accusations of Ioan being a bad parent to their two daughters. She has also allegedly gone as far as to share screenshots of text conversations between Ioan and his eldest child.

As Divorce Solicitors, we understand that divorce can be extremely difficult and emotionally draining. But posting the wrong thing online could result in irreversible damage. In this article, we’ve gone into further detail about how your social media presence could be used by your former spouse, and how this might affect your case.

For advice that is tailored to your situation, contact our team of specialist solicitors for divorce cases.

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Can Social Media Posts Be Used As Evidence?

Many people are unaware that social media posts are effectively public documents, meaning they are admissible in Court and could potentially be used against you.

Even if you’ve removed your former spouse from your friends or followers lists and blocked them, it’s likely that you will still have mutual friends who will continue to have sight of anything you post.

In some cases, aggrieved exes may go to the lengths of creating a new account to monitor their former partner’s behaviour following the break-up. They will often use what they find as evidence, and even use it for blackmail.

We know that in divorce proceedings relationships can become hostile and you might be tempted to share your frustrations on social media. But we would urge you to post with caution as the consequences could do significant harm to your case during separation proceedings.

How Could My Posts Affect Divorce Proceedings?

Social media is part of most people’s day-to-day lives now and this level of familiarity can lead individuals to post life updates and images without fully thinking them through before uploading.

This can be particularly detrimental for people who are going through a divorce. There are multiple ways that your posts could be taken and used against you. Your ex-spouse may use messages, photos, tags, and videos that you’ve shared to imply that you have acted inappropriately. 

If you’re applying to spend time with your children, this could be especially damaging. It can also be costly as you may be served with injunction proceedings for harassment and be held responsible for paying your partner’s legal costs.

We would therefore urge anyone who is starting the process of separation to think carefully about what is posted online and to seek legal advice early. For more information on how our expert Divorce Solicitors could help you, get in touch for an initial consultation.

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Benefits of Using Social Media as Evidence

There are several ways that using social media posts as evidence can positively affect your divorce case. Not only can it provide valuable evidence that cannot be denied, but it can also help to back up any evidence that may have been presented by a witness.

Social media posts can also be used to show that there’s an inconsistency between what someone has said in Court versus what they have actually said and done in real life, including online.

Disadvantages of Using Social Media as Evidence

While social media posts have been used as evidence in the past, there are a few disadvantages of doing so. For example, written text is open to interpretation and the judge may not read into it the same way as you have.

It’s also possible for someone to delete their side of the conversation through social media platforms like Facebook. When someone chooses to do this, their half of the conversation is no longer accessible or retrievable, so you lose your evidence entirely. When this happens, it makes it difficult to form an accurate picture of the situation and it could lead to an unfair outcome in the proceedings.

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Social Media Security Tips

With social media being prevalent in our society, it’s impossible to ask someone to refrain from being active online. During a divorce, social media posts can be used as evidence, so here are some ways to make sure that your posts are as private as they can be, away from prying eyes.

Topics to Avoid Posting on Social Media

As your social media posts can be used as evidence against you, it’s wise to think about the type of content that you are sharing on a public platform. Here are some topics to avoid altogether, if you don’t want to affect your divorce proceedings:

  • Your children’s behaviour
  • Financial problems
  • Your ex-partners infidelity
  • Your mental health issues

Essentially, you shouldn’t ever talk about anything that can show you in a negative light or twisted to be used against you. The aim here is to not give your ex-partner any material or an opportunity to use your words against you in Court.

Update Your Password

It’s very common for partners to know each other’s passwords or be able to make an accurate guess. When a relationship breaks down, it’s wise to secure your accounts to prevent your ex-partner from gaining access.

Not only is this important for your social media accounts, but you should also secure your email, online banking, and any other accounts you think they could access. Likewise, you should never use your ex-partners password, as this is illegal, and action could be taken against you.

Look into Your Social Media Footprint

If you’re concerned about what may be used against you during your divorce, it’s always a good decision to search yourself online. Search your name in a few search engines to discover what’s out there with your name on it. Make sure that there are no visible posts that can be used against you.

Adjust Privacy Settings

If your relationship didn’t end amicably, you may wish to unfriend your ex-partner on social media. If you don’t want them to see anything that you post, you can either block them or adjust your privacy settings.

For example, on Facebook you can make sure that only people on your friends list can view your posts. You can also set your account as private, so that no one can search your account by your name, email address, or phone number.

You should also consider any mutual friends that you may have. If you’re tagged into a post by a mutual friend, your ex-partner will be able to see it, unless they have been blocked.

Keep Your Posts Appropriate

Even though you can prevent your ex-partner from seeing your social media posts, that doesn’t mean that someone on your friends list won’t tell them about your posts. For this reason, it will be wise to avoid posting anything private or inflammatory on your social media, especially if it includes your children.

A general tip to keep in mind is not to post anything that you would be embarrassed for a judge to read out in a Court hearing.

Sharing Photos

While sharing photos on social media isn’t a bad thing, you must consider exactly what you’re sharing within context. For example, if you have told your ex-partner that you can’t afford to contribute towards an expense for your child, but you later share a photo of something you’ve bought yourself, this could cause an argument.

Make sure that your posts and any photos that you share align with the image that you would like the judge to have of you. You want to paint a picture of you being a stable and reliable parent, so don’t give anyone any material that suggests otherwise.

Think About Your Children

Children are very capable of finding their way around online, including social media. There will come a time when your child is able to access things that you have posted online. Keep this in mind with everything that you’re sharing.

Social media creates public documentation of everything you say, that can never be taken back. The last thing you want is to share something that will hurt them later on.

Monitor Your Child’s Posts

Under UK law, you’re responsible for your child’s actions, which extends to social media too. The Court will hold you liable for anything that your child posts online. You don’t only have to keep an eye on your own social media, but also your child’s too.

For example, your child complaining about their parent could be shown as evidence that your child isn’t happy living with you. You should talk with your child about what they use social media for and discuss reasonable limits that could be put in place to make sure that nothing can be used negatively.

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Lorraine Harvey

Partner, Family Law

Areas of Expertise:
Family Law

Lorraine is a Partner at Simpson Millar, specialising in Family Law for over 20 years.

She handles middle to high net value cases, including pension claims and complex trust, and also advises on pre-nuptial and post-nuptial agreements.

Lorraine has unrivalled knowledge of public sector pensions, in particular police pensions, having advised police officers on pension claims for two decades.

References:

www.cps.gov.uk. (n.d.). Social Media: Reasonable Lines of Enquiry | The Crown Prosecution Service. [online] Available at: https://www.cps.gov.uk/legal-guidance/social-media-reasonable-lines-enquiry.

Newsroom, T. (2022). How social media posts can be used against you in divorce cases. [online] Yorkshirepost.co.uk. Available at: https://www.yorkshirepost.co.uk/business/how-social-media-posts-can-be-used-against-you-in-divorce-cases-kim-fellowes-3866750.

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