Limiting social media sharing is essential for divorcing Pennsylvanians

Most couples preparing for divorces in Wyomissing and around Pennsylvania expect to lose some privacy during the proceedings. All kinds of personal information may be pulled into divorce court when issues such as fault grounds, personal assets and parental fitness are considered. However, many people fail to appreciate the role social media can play in making highly personal information public. Unfortunately, information shared through social media can have damaging effects during divorce proceedings.

Incriminating online sharing

Social media activity is frequently used to prove a spouse has made dishonest statements, according to Forbes. Online activity can shed light on a person's financial state and use of assets. It can even suggest whether the person is hiding marital property. Social media activity can also yield insights into a person's fidelity, lifestyle and mental health.

These findings can have a profound impact on the divorce. They may affect the amount of property or alimony a spouse receives, or the final child custody and visitation arrangement the judge orders. Alarmingly, almost any online activity can be admissible. Comments, messages, photos and videos are common sources of evidence. Even information that other people have shared online may reflect poorly on a person.

The use of this information is more common than many spouses might believe. According to Forbes, 2012 surveys from the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers show that 81 percent of members have seen an increase in divorce cases involving online evidence.

Managing social media activity

A few common misunderstandings often cause people to share more than they should through social media, according to the Huffington Post. People going through divorces should avoid thinking information shared through social media is any of the following things:

  • Retractable - once something is shared, it can be preserved through screen shots or downloaded, even if the original post is deleted. Besides, deleting posts can be seen as destroying evidence, which is a risky thing to do during a divorce.
  • Private - information shared through social media is rarely truly private. Many people's privacy settings aren't as secure as they believe, and even the best privacy settings cannot protect against fake profiles or online friends who let other people use their profiles.
  • Innocent - it's easy for jokes and other seemingly harmless activity to be interpreted in the wrong light. With social media evidence, appearances often matter as much as the truth behind what was shared.

It's important for spouses to be aware of these risks when using social media during a divorce. Spouses should think carefully about everything they share online and, as a basic guideline, avoid disclosing any information they would not want brought up in court.

Anticipating the way social media and other factors will affect a divorce and its final outcome can be difficult. Anyone preparing for a separation in Pennsylvania should speak to an attorney for a better understanding of what to expect during the divorce process.