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Can Social Media Be Used Against You in a Divorce?

A recent study by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (AAML) reported that over 80 percent of divorce attorneys acknowledge that the amount of cases utilizing social networking evidence have increased significantly since 2006. That's no surprise, really, considering the enormous rise in popularity of social media sites over the last several years. In fact, divorce evidence acquired from Facebook and other popular social media sites has become quite commonplace.

Going through a divorce can be highly emotional, and many people find their outlet for this emotion on social media. In addition, people just don't realize the damage that can be done to their divorce settlement from those seemingly harmless party photos that they posted on Facebook, or the location-based status updates that can tag you in a location when you are "not supposed to be there" (from Facebook or Foursquare).

Actually, since May 19, 2011, divorce parties can be court ordered to turn over their logins and passwords for the social media accounts. Now, attorneys can look more closely than ever at their client's and ex's social media accounts for insight on character and behaviors that can be used as leverage in a divorce case. Social media can not only damage your pending or existing divorce case, but it can also affect your child custody rights, and limit your ability to collect spousal support.

All of this probably sounds scary, but it doesn't mean that you have to give up using social media or delete your Facebook account. What it does mean is that you need to be mindful of how you use social media, and what you post.

Here are a few tips to help you ensure that your use of social media doesn't affect your divorce settlement:

Think before you post. The best piece of advice I can give you is to think twice before posting anything. Think carefully about whether those photos or your venting could reflect you in a negative light. Don't add fuel to the already emotionally fiery divorce process!

Don't use any location-based social media sites/features. Make sure you know whether the social media sites you are using have a geo-tagging feature or use your location in your posts. You should either stop using these sites or turn off that feature if the option is available. You don't need everyone knowing your whereabouts during this sensitive time.

Change your passwords and protect your digital media.I don't mean to sound paranoid, but it's possible your ex has or had access to your laptop or smartphone at some point, or knows or can guess your passwords. So, take the time to change your passwords for Facebook, Twitter, and the other social media sites you use. It's not unheard of for spouses to install spyware on a laptop/iPad/etc. so if you suspect this or are just curious, there are spyware detection specialist that can help you.

Choose carefully who you are "friends" with. Even if you are on friendly terms with your ex, it's good to consider whether you should "unfriend" or block them from your social media accounts. Sometimes "friendly" divorces turn feisty, and what may have seemed harmless to you in the past could now be used against you in your divorce settlement. Also consider whether you should block or limit the viewing ability of mutual friends and family members who may be sympathetic with your ex. Keeping your social media circles separate from your ex's is often the safest route to take.

It may take some thought and a little effort, but utilizing these tips will help ensure that your use of social media doesn't affect your divorce!

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