Family Law

Be Careful What You Post on Facebook During Your Divorce

By Kristina Otterstrom, Attorney
Why you should think twice before posting on Facebook during your divorce.

Oversharing Can Affect Property Division

It can be tempting to make a soon-to-be ex jealous by flaunting pictures of a new car or weekend getaway on Facebook. It’s natural for a separated spouse to want to show that life is great. One pitfall of this oversharing is that it may show frivolous spending and reduce what you receive as a property settlement or alimony in your divorce.

During marriage, both spouses’ incomes are considered marital property. If one spouse uses marital funds to pay for lavish vacations, shopping sprees, gifts for a lover, or a new luxury car, a court can deduct that spending from the spouse’s share of the marital estate. Often this kind of spending comes to light on sites like Facebook when the spendthrift spouse flaunts his or her adventures or latest purchases. If the spouses are already separated or divorcing, and one is posting about extravagant spending, this may provide evidence that this spouse has additional income available for child and/or spousal support.

Evidence of an Affair

Perhaps even more troublesome is evidence of an affair on Facebook. In one well-known Connecticut case, a judge ordered both spouses to provide their Facebook account passwords to each other’s attorneys. The husband suspected that his wife had been cheating after searching on the couple’s home computer. The judge allowed evidence from the wife’s Facebook account to show that she had committed adultery.

In certain states, one couple’s infidelity can affect alimony. For example, a cheating spouse may be precluded from seeking spousal support. In the same Connecticut case, the judge also ordered the couple to exchange passwords for dating websites. What this means is that public posts as well as private messages can all come to light during your divorce case.

How Can Facebook Posts Impact Custody?

Parents who bash or threaten their child’s other parent in public forums like Facebook may affect their chances at obtaining custody. One factor a court will consider in deciding custody is each parent’s willingness to foster a relationship between the child and other parent. A judge can factor in one parent’s negative talk or criticism of a child’s other parent in a custody arrangement.

Additionally, if you’re a parent with an untreated alcohol problem, or you leave your children unattended while you party, you can ruin your chances of getting custody by posting your escapades on Facebook. A child’s best interests are paramount to any custody decision. With this in mind, a judge will consider each parent’s ability to meet a child’s needs and provide stability for the child. If you’re routinely out on the town, or you have a lifestyle not compatible with your children’s bedtimes, a judge can take those factors into account and may transfer custody to your spouse.

Although there are some risks to sharing too much on Facebook during your divorce, it doesn’t mean that you should delete your account entirely. As the above Connecticut case demonstrated, your spouse’s Facebook posts may actually help your case. When in doubt about what you should be sharing, follow your lawyer’s advice for using social media during your divorce.

Questions for Your Attorney

  • My spouse has made his Facebook account completely private, so I can’t see his posts. Can a judge force my spouse to let me see his posts?
  • My spouse’s affair led to our divorce, but she’s deleted her entire account. How can I gain access to her posts that prove she had an affair?
  • My spouse spent thousands of dollars on his lover and often posted about their vacations together and jewelry purchases. How do I use these posts as evidence in my case?
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