A Toronto Family Lawyer’s Guide to Using Facebook During Divorce Proceedings

How many times have you checked your facebook app today? Facebook has become an irreplaceable tool, which allows us to stay in touch with family and friends, who are often dispersed around the world. At the same time, Facebook posts have become a rich source of evidence, which can and will be used against you by your ex spouse and his or her lawyer in family court. The amount of information other people see on social media sites is controlled by privacy settings or permissions. For its own marketing purposes, Facebook  and other social networking websites default permissions usually favour widespread sharing. Always remember that you cannot be anonymous on the web. Most family and divorce lawyers in Toronto have experienced the occasional inability of their clients to behave online. Facebook is designed to share your real personality and your actions and attitudes. This is exactly why social media is one of the best lie detection methods that afamily court judge can use.

Behave and Do Not Over-share

Do not denigrate your ex on Facebook and other social media websites, especially if you have children in common. Wile venting your hurt emotions and seeking solace in cyber space can be therapeutic, Facebook is hardly the most appropriate place for healing. Not only is it in arguably poor taste to over-share your innermost emotional struggles in a public forum, but putting down and ripping into your ex can seriously jeopardize your legal position. As your family lawyer will likely caution you, If you are embroiled in a custody dispute, your vitriolic rants against your co-parent can be seen as evidence of your inability to put your child’s best interests above your own. Fighting over child custody in Ontario can get very nasty very fast. Facebook expressions of animosity can also show that you are unwilling to work cooperatively with your ex in parenting your child. These indicators may demonstrate to a family court judge that you cannot be trusted to promote the maximum contact and meaningful relationship between your child and the other parent. Furthermore, if you post an untruthful comment, you could be sued for libel. On a very human and practical level, sounding like a raving maniac will seriously undermine your credibility in the eyes of an adjudicator and public at large.

Post Wisely

Who doesn’t have some embarrassing photographic evidence of a crazy Friday night, drinking with friends? That picture of you drinking with your BFFs, smoking a bong or a photo of your kid “pretend” drinking a bottle of rum with a funny caption can all support your spouse’s claims that you have a problem with alcohol or that you are an unfit parent. as you can see, social media can show poor parenting skills or judgement, show capacity to work or show smoking or the use of substances not normally associated with someone who is an exemplary parent.

Checking into luxury hotels, enjoying expensive vacation packages and showing off your newest car or a boat is a great ego boost, but your bragging rights come with a potentially significant price tag. When it comes to equalizing family property or dealing with spousal support or child support issues, Facebook photos and status updates can unwittingly reveal your financial circumstances that differs drastically from the claims that you made in your financial disclosure. While hiding assets and understating your income are reckless and imprudent moves in any family law case, getting caught doing it is even worse. A picture of that piece of jewelry that you claimed was lost or a trip to Paris with your new love interest can result in a reassessment of your equalization calculation and support payments, and you could have costs ordered against you. Make sure to work closely and follow the advice of your Toronto family lawyer to avoid these costly missteps.

To Check in or Not to Check In

Checking into various venues, restaurants, movie theatres and travel destinations is fun and addictive. If you are involved in a particularly contentious divorce or if have applied for a restraining order because you fear physical or emotional abuse from your ex, you may not want to post your whereabouts on social media. Even the best family lawyer in Toronto is not a substitute for common sense. Posting your location is an open invitation for trouble and should be resisted.

 Parting Words of Caution 

While most divorce lawyers recommend a dating “time out” immediately following your separation, if you choose to pursue romantic interests during a particularly contentious family law matter, you will need to refrain from sharing this sweet information on Facebook. Your ex, a mutual friend, a family members or even an acquaintance can pass this information on to your ex and his lawyer, who may use it to their advantage.

This legal information brought to you by Ivan Steele Law Office.

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