If you are thinking about filing for divorce in Michigan or are in the process of getting divorced, it is extremely important to consider how social media usage can hurt your case. In other words, you may want to stop posting on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and other social media platforms that can provide public information about your personal life during your divorce. Ultimately, even if you think this information is private, it could end up being used against you in divorce proceedings or property settlement negotiations. An article in Forbes suggests that, if you are getting divorced, the best action to take with regard to social media is to avoid it.
We want to discuss some of the problems social media can pose in a Michigan divorce.
Social Media Can Provide Information About Hidden Assets
When you are getting divorced, all marital property-which includes assets and debts-will be divided according to a theory of equitable distribution. This means that marital property will be divided in a way that is fair to both parties, but not necessarily in a way that is equal. In all divorce cases, both spouses will need to provide information about marital assets and debts so they court can consider them when determining how to divide the property. While it can happen in almost any divorce case, hiding property can be a particularly problematic issue in high-asset divorces.
For example, perhaps one of the parties does not want to have an expensive sports car or an expensive piece of artwork to be “divided” and thus may decide to hide it and to avoid providing information about it to the court. Or, perhaps, one of the spouses handled most of the financial issues during the marriage and claims to have recently lost a significant amount of marital assets through investments when this is not in fact true. Such actions-hiding property-are unlawful and can result in consequences beyond those affecting property distribution. Yet these kinds of actions are good examples of how social media use can expose hidden assets.
Evidence from Social Media May Be Used in Court
Imagine that one of the spouses who is hiding property posts a photo on Facebook or Instagram of an expensive vacation, making clear that she or he does have more money than previously suggested. Or, if that expensive sports car or artwork appears in a social media post-even if it is not on the spouse’s account but rather the account of a friend-that image can be used in the divorce proceeding to show that assets may be hidden. Hidden assets can also affect spousal support payments.
As we intimated, information contained on social media accounts could end up being admissible in court. For example, if you post about getting a raise or a new job, or if you post information that could have any impact at all on your divorce and the other spouse finds it, it may come into play in your case.
What should you do? Ultimately, consider getting off social media altogether during your divorce and prevent friends and family members from “tagging” you in any posts. If you feel you must remain on social media, update all of your privacy settings and refrain from writing or sharing any words or images that you would be uncomfortable sharing with your spouse.
A Michigan Divorce Lawyer Can Help