March 2019

It is exceedingly rare today that a party to a Family Law case has no social media presence. To be sure, all of a party’s social media content is available to lawyers and courts for inspection to the extent it is relevant to the court case. How one behaves in both their public and private lives can have a significant bearing on child-custody cases, as well as cases involving significant assets. The use of a party’s social media commentary and behavior is becoming more and more common in courtroom arguments.

Be aware that what you write or post on social media may be used in your Family Law case. You should act on the Internet the way you wish to be portrayed in court if there is any likelihood you will be a party to a Family Law court case.

If a Family Law suit is either eminent or likely, you should not, however, delete or destroy information that would reasonably be relevant to such case. The legal term for deliberately destroying or deleting relevant evidence is “spoliation.” A finding of spoliation against a party can be quite harmful to the party’s overall case. If there is any question about whether the deletion of information might constitute spoliation, you should consult with a lawyer about it before taking any action with regard to that information.

Likewise, retrieval of communication owned by a spouse or loved one might also be a violation of the law. Spouses sometimes feel as though they have a right to inspect the other spouse’s electronic devices or communication accounts. To be clear, there is no absolute right between spouses to access another’s communication merely due to the fact of marriage. Indeed, accessing a spouse’s communication without specific authorization can constitute a violation of both criminal and civil laws. However, there are times when it is perfectly legal. Whether one spouse has the right to access another’s communication usually turns on whether or not the creator of the communication has an expectation of privacy in the communication. Here again, this is another area where the advice and counsel of an attorney is useful prior to merely taking action.

Never before have so many people voluntarily placed so much personal information in the public domain. It is perhaps inevitable that the same information would find its way into courtroom proceedings over children and property. If you have questions about the bearing of your social media or that of a loved one on a potential case, please call The Law Office of David Kazen for an assessment of your particular facts and situation.