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What Qualifies as Social Media Evidence in an Illinois Divorce?

Posted on in Divorce

oak brook divorce lawyerIt is fairly common when a person is going through a divorce to vent about their frustrations about their soon-to-be-ex on social media. Many people who do this believe that since they are in control of their privacy setting, what they are posting is not “public” view, not realizing that their spouse’s attorney can actually gain legal access to these posts if they feel it would be useful evidence in the divorce. This is why it is important to be cognizant of everything you post since it could end up costing you money or even parenting time.

Understanding the Full Scope of Social Media

One of the biggest misconceptions people have about social media evidence is that they think it only applies to sites like Facebook and Instagram when it comes to divorce. However, even things like emails, text messages, and any other forms of electronic communication can be used. Whether communication is sent or viewed on a laptop or a cell phone, a family court judge can allow it to be introduced as evidence.

Text messages and private messages are especially common forms of divorce evidence. In fact, in a well-known survey conducted by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (AAML), 97 percent of all attorneys surveyed said they had seen a significant increase in the use of text messages in divorce cases they handled.

Texts and e-mails have also become much more accessible than they used to be in years past, with phone and data companies having the technology to be able to provide all messages to and from a given number, if subpoenaed to do so.

What You Post Will Never Go Away

As mentioned above, another major mistake that people going through divorce and custody battles make is that they think that as long as their social media account settings are not set to public, whatever they post cannot be used against them. This is wrong and – unfortunately – many people learn just how wrong it is the hard way when they their spouse’s attorney introduces photos and posts that show the person intoxicated or engaging in risky or what the court could consider inappropriate behavior.

These photos and other social media posts could lead the court to believe that the person in the photos may not be a fit parent and could torpedo any chance they have of gaining custody.

Deleting any questionable photos or posts where you rail against your ex in a degrading manner could actually get you in trouble with the court. Under Illinois rules of evidence, if a person commits “spoliation of evidence,” such as deleting social media posts, they could face serious consequences. The court could look upon deleting posts that could affect custody decisions as an act of fraud or untruthfulness, causing them to question your fitness for parenting even more.

Call a Cook County Family Attorney for Legal Help

Although social media may be a big part of your every day, it may be more beneficial to your divorce case if you avoid posting until there is a resolution. Call Botti Marinaccio, LTD. at 630-575-8585 to schedule a free consultation with one of our skilled DuPage County divorce lawyer to find out what steps you should take with all of your electronic communication to ensure you are protected during your divorce.

Source:

http://www.illinoiscourts.gov/SupremeCourt/Rules/Art_II/ArtII.htm#219

https://www.natlawreview.com/article/family-law-social-media-evidence-divorce-cases

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Botti Marinaccio, LTD.

630-575-8585

2015 Spring Road, Oak Brook, IL 60523

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