Social media apps on Smartphones are the latest trend. However, they have also become the latest trend in courtrooms, as well. You have heard the saying, “A picture is worth a thousand words.” Well, it can also cost you thousands upon thousands of dollars in a divorce hearing. One of the best features of most modern Smartphones, are the cameras. Social media integration furthers the use of the camera on your device by seamlessly uploading directly to your favorite social media sites, like Facebook or Instagram. Selfies are becoming an all to common thing. Every time you open your newsfeed, you can see what someone is having for dinner, what they decided to wear out, where they are at, and who they are with. However, there is another trend that is becoming mainstream.
This trend is called a ‘Fail’. This is where someone uploads a photo and while they were busy making sure they, or the focus of the photo looks perfect, they failed to check the background for unwanted scenery. These ‘Fails’ may include a mirror image exposing background clutter, an unwanted person in the image, or worse, an unwanted location marker. These ‘Fails’ are a very common occurrence. These images can tell the truth, even when you aren’t. Identification markers may reveal who you are with, where you are, and what you were doing, showing the world (and your spouse…and their attorney) you have not been entirely honest about your financial state, being somewhere you said you could not afford to be, or in the company of a person you said you do not know. These image uploads to social media can spell disaster in court. Many individuals that find information like this and are guilty of the same immediately may attempt to delete their social media accounts. This is a very big mistake. This is often referred to as a spoliation issue. The account information is still discoverable, and your attempt to destroy or conceal this information can lead to a much bigger issue. You don’t want that. Your best bet is to stop using your social media accounts until the divorce judgment is final. Divorce attorneys everywhere are telling their clients about the pitfalls associated with Smartphone use during divorce proceedings. Use your phone in any way that you choose, as long as you are prepared to have your history laid out in front of the court.
Jeff Hughes, J.D.