INTERNET and social media has become a way of life these days. Almost everyone these day have Facebook, Instagram, Tweeter, etc. as part of their daily lives. These media are used frequent as people used to use land lines and TV. However if you have a pending divorce case or are contemplating filing for divorce, you should try to either refrain from using social media or exercise extra care in using social media because anything you post in social media can be used against you in court. Posting certain pictures or comments in social media can affect issues relating to domestic violence, child custody, spousal support, child support, attorney’s fees, and property division.
Sometimes, people will post comments in social media such as facebook or tweeter ranting about their spouse when they get upset about certain issues. Other times, people would post comments that are threatening to a spouse or other household members. These type of posts and activity can be construed by the Court as domestic violence towards a spouse and towards other household members. It is best to restrain your emotions, and refrain from posting such rants or other harassing comments on line. In addition, hacking into your spouse computer and disclosing and disseminating materials downloaded from your spouse’s e-mail, social media, etc may result to a finding of domestic violence. Domestic violence is not limited to physical violence. It includes actions that can destroy to mental and emotional calm of your spouse or ex spouse such as disseminating your spouse private information.
Pictures of yourself in parties drinking alcohol or smoking in the presence of your minor child is a common piece of evidence parties try to introduce in Custody hearings specially when there is allegations of alcohol abuse. Avoid posting these type of pictures in social media and the internet. If you have monitored visitation of your child, avoid comments and pictures in social media that depicts you exercising visitation without a monitor.Avoid any type of social media pictures or comments referring to use of marijuana or other types of drugs. Even if your spouse or ex spouse is not within your list of social media friends or contacts, you will be amazed how these type of information can get to your spouse through common friends. In addition, if there is a finding of domestic violence against you as discussed above, there is a rebuttable presumption against giving you sole or joint physical custody of your child under Family Code Section 3044.
Spousal Support and Child Support
Social media are often used by people to brag and show off to their friends their expensive vacation, exotic trips and other new ride they bought. However, this could back fire when you have a pending family law case. Your spouse somehow will be able to get a hold of these pictures and comments through common friends and use it as evidence against you as to why you should pay more child support and spousal support. Your argument in Court that you are broke and living paycheck to paycheck might be questioned if there are pictures and comments regarding you having a blast in Las Vegas or going on that Caribbean Cruise with your new significant other. Pictures of your expensive hobbies such as hunting, shooting in firing ranges with your expensive gun collection can be used against you to put into question your contention that you are broke. Likewise if you are the spouse asking for support, evidence in social medial that you are living a high lifestyle or that you are gambling can affect your claim for spousal support and child support.
The above conduct in social media and the internet can also affect your claim for attorney’s fee. Most of the attorney’s fee request in family court are based on needs. (Family Code Section 2030). If there is evidence of what appears to be a flamboyant lifestyle, this could undermine your need to have your spouse contribute to your attorney’s fees.
Division of Property
The Family Code requires the parties to make full and complete disclosure of all assets, debts, material facts and information, income and expenses. If there are assets and businesses that you failed to disclose but pictures and statements referring to it is posted in social media and the internet, your spouse can use this evidence to file an omitted asset RFO and have the Court divide the community interest in such asset or business even after the divorce judgment had been entered. For example, if you invested as a part owner in a business without disclosing this interest. This new business posts pictures of you cutting the ribbon during its inaugural grand opening, this can be used in court as evidence of your undisclosed asset. It would also tip your spouse to propound further discovery to obtain evidence regarding your undisclosed asset or business interest.
When you have a pending family law case, it would probably be in your interest to either refrain or be very mindful of the information you post and disseminate in social medial and the internet because it can have a material effect on the issues in your family law case.
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Please note that this article is not legal advice and is not intended as legal advice. The article is intended to provide only general, non-specific legal information. This article is not intended to cover all the issues related to the topic discussed. The specific facts that apply to your matter may make the outcome different than would be anticipated by you. This article does create any attorney client relationship between you and the Law Offices of Kenneth U. Reyes, P.C. This article is not a solicitation.
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Attorney Kenneth Ursua Reyes is a Certified Family Law Specialist. He was President of the Philippine American Bar Association. He is a member of both the Family law section and Immigration law section of the Los Angeles County Bar Association. He has extensive CPA experience prior to law practice. LAW OFFICES OF KENNETH REYES, P.C. is located at 3699 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 747, Los Angeles, CA, 90010. Tel. (213) 388-1611 or e-mail [email protected] or visit our website at Kenreyeslaw.com.