Guidelines For Proper Communications
How to behave properly and protect oneself online during divorce
These guidelines for social media and digital communications during a divorce
proceeding can help you avoid making online missteps during your case:
When communicating with the opposing party
Text messages and e-mail communications are frequently used as evidence
in divorce or custody trials. When communicating with the opposing party
via text or e-mail, take care to keep your tone respectful and avoid name
calling or putting anything in writing that you would not want a judge
to read. Assume that anything that you put in writing or any voicemail
that you leave for the other party could potentially be used in court.
Avoid personally attacking the other party and try to limit your communications
to issues directly related to the well-being or care of the children when
communicating with the other parent during a custody case.
When communicating with others
Also avoid sending emails, text messages, photos, and videos to friends
and family that you would not want the opposing party or a judge to see,
because sometimes these communications are “leaked” or otherwise
obtained. Be cautious about who you call, as well. Texts, emails, and
phone numbers/call history are among the top sources for evidence in a
Also, be aware that apps like Snapchat, which are advertised as private
and don’t save the messages, can still be used as evidence –
taking a photograph or screenshot of the message are common ways of preserving
On social media
Consider shutting down or suspending your social media accounts during
your court proceeding. Whether you are “liking” a post by
someone else on Facebook, posting pictures of your weekend and leisure
activities, or being “checked-in” by a Facebook friend, realize
that having active social media sites makes it more likely that the opposing
party can track your actions and who you and your children spend time with.
- If child support or alimony is an issue, social media sites may be used
to show details about your lifestyle and how you are spending your money.
- If custody is an issue, social media sites can be used to show what you
are doing when the children are in your care and how much time you are
spending with your children.
If you do not shut down or suspend your social media sites during a divorce
or custody proceeding, then you should review and update the privacy settings
for the social media sites and applications that you use.
Don’t assume that because you have blocked the opposing party from
your social media profiles that that person is not receiving or being
informed of the information that you share on social media.
- Mutual friends or family members may convey information about you to the
- The opposing party or another individual may create a fake profile to try
to access information that you have posted on social media sites.
- The opposing party’s attorney may request that you provide information
about what you have posted to social media sites before and during your case.
Clean up your social media accounts
If you are in the initial stages of a family law case, you may want to
review your past posts on social media sites and delete some of these
posts or photographs. While there is no guarantee that working to clean
up your social media history will prevent the opposing party from obtaining
the information you previously shared on these sites, it may at least
make that information harder to find.
Don’t use online dating websites
Be careful about using online dating websites or applications during your
family law proceeding. What you put on your dating profile and who you
interact with on these dating websites or applications might potentially
be relevant if custody is an issue in your case.
Use caution in posting comments on online blogs or websites
It is possible that the opposing party or the other attorney might conduct
an online search to try to find information about all of your activity
on the Internet. If you are posting a great deal of comments on a site
regarding a controversial topic (such as legalization of illegal drugs
or gun control), there is a possibility that those types of comments may
be used by the opposing party in a contested family law case.
Don’t discuss your case using digital communications with anyone
except your attorney
Do not discuss your case or the outcome of any family law court appearances
(good or bad) on social media sites or in texts or emails to friends and
family. These types of posts or communications might be obtained by the
other party and could potentially be admissible at trial or in future
hearings during your case.
Change all passwords and protect your phone
See our chapters on protecting your online privacy and phone tracking for
details on securing your accounts from prying eyes.
Don’t violate your partner’s privacy
Don’t try to hack into your partners email, social media, or other
personal accounts. Don’t install GPS location tracking applications
on their phone or car, and don’t place keystroke tracking software
on their computer.
Discuss these issues with your attorney
Your attorney should discuss issues surrounding digital communications
and social media with you at the beginning of your case. Make sure to
disclose any concerns you have about your own or your spouse’s online
activities. If you are unsure about a digital communication, behavior
or activity, it is wise to check with your attorney before doing anything.