Social media connects people with those they may not otherwise have had contact with, which may be why studies are indicating that its use is affecting marital happiness. According to The National Law Review, one-third of divorce litigation cases begin because of online affairs. The negative effects of social media continue after relationships end, too.
Social media has become a significant source of evidence in divorce cases.
Social media evidence statistics
Facebook may be the social media site that gets divorcing spouses in the most trouble, as it is the source of evidence in 66% of divorce cases. When attorneys go looking for social media evidence to use in court, 81% of them find it.
Admissible social media evidence
When spouses and their attorneys go looking for evidence on social media, there are limits to the methods they can use. For example, a judge would not consider a post as evidence if the spouse set up a fake account and sent a friend or follower request to access private posts. Hacking into someone else’s account is illegal, so a spouse cannot present any information accessed in this manner in court.
However, if someone posts something that the public can view, the court allows the other party to use it. If the spouse is a friend or follower of someone who shares the information, then it is also valid.
Use of social media evidence
What can a spouse use social media to prove? The South Carolina Judicial Branch states that evidence is relevant if it reveals any fact that is likely to change the outcome of the trial. Posts or pictures that affect the judge’s decision may include the following:
- One that reveals noncompliance with a court order
- One that reveals hidden assets or other financial fraud
- One that reveals actions or behaviors that put children in danger
- One that reveals perjury
While it may seem tempting for spouses to cyberstalk each other in a quest for evidence, it may be better for both of them to disable accounts during the divorce and ask friends to refrain from making posts or tagging pictures that include them.