Most Virginia residents are active on at least one social media platform, and the messages and photographs they share with their friends and followers are often quite candid. This kind of sharing has become so common that it is now considered a normal part of daily life, and it is also a source of evidence in about two-thirds of divorce cases. Scouring the social media accounts of divorcing spouses leads to the discovery of evidence worth presenting in court 81% of the time, and about a third of all divorces are initiated by spouses who discovered evidence of infidelity online.
Checking social media can reveal more than evidence of affairs. People often show off on platforms like Facebook and Instagram by posting images of themselves enjoying sumptuous meals or wearing expensive watches or jewelry, but this kind of photo could be difficult to explain when spouses claim during divorce negotiations that they are struggling financially and cannot afford to pay spousal support.
The things an individual posts on social media can also reveal aspects of their character that could influence child custody decisions or provide information about assets that are being concealed during property division negotiations. This kind of evidence is generally admissible in court as long as it was obtained by legitimate means and false accounts were not used to gather it.
Experienced family law attorneys will likely be well aware of the evidentiary value of social media content, and they may advise their clients to check their post histories for anything that could be potentially embarrassing or misconstrued. However, attorneys could advise against deleting this information if legal proceedings have already started as this could be considered spoliation. Attorneys may also check the statements made by divorcing spouses on social media platforms and online forums to see if they contradict what they said in negotiations or court.