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DuPage County child custody attorney for social media useNow that so many adults are working from home, we are relying on technology even more often than we did before the COVID-19 pandemic. Many people are using cellphones, laptops, and home computers for everything from answering work emails to paying their bills. Because technology is such an integral part of our lives, addressing technology concerns during divorce is crucial. It is important to guard your privacy, watch what you say, and ensure that your online activity does not lead to negative consequences during your case.

Social Media Is Less Private Than You Think

Due to COVID-19 lockdowns, many people have replaced in-person meetups with social media communication. While websites like Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and LinkedIn can be great places to network and keep in touch with loved ones, using social media during divorce can be risky. Most family law attorneys have seen a marked increase in the role of social media during divorce. It is very possible that pictures, videos, and messages you post online could be used against you. Do not make the mistake of assuming that your social media activity is private just because you have set your profile status to “private.” There are many different ways to access online information that was only intended to be viewed by a small number of close friends.  

Do Not Share Evidence of Your Financial Activity

You may be so used to sharing information about your daily life through social media, text messages, or email that you do not actually realize how much financial information you are revealing. Evidence of new purchases, vacations, or shopping sprees may be used against you during property division, spousal maintenance, or child custody determinations. Many assume that text messages are private, but it is possible for a party to request text messages to be turned over during the discovery process – especially if there is suspicion of hidden assets.

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DuPage County child custody attorney

Technology has changed the way we communicate with loved ones, do our jobs, and generally interact with the world. If you are getting divorced, there are several things you should keep in mind with regard to your digital life. Social media is becoming increasingly relevant in divorce cases and family law disputes. Your use of technology and the Internet may seem unrelated to your divorce at first glance, but there are many different ways that social media, smartphones, email, and other online-based services can impact the outcome of your divorce. In some cases, it can affect spousal maintenance (alimony) and the allocation of parental responsibilities (child custody). 

Change Your Passwords

According to one study, 67 percent of respondents reported that they knew their spouse’s log-in credentials. Even if you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse are on amicable terms, it is still a good idea to change your passwords when you separate from your spouse to maintain a sense of privacy. It may also be helpful to turn off “location sharing” on applications and websites. You may be logged into your email, Facebook account, or your bank’s website on shared devices like tablets or laptops and not even realize it. It is recommended that you change passwords for:

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DuPage County divorce attorney social media evidenceSocial media websites like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram have revolutionized the way we communicate with each other, so it may not surprise you that social media is increasingly influential in divorce cases. A large percentage of divorcing couples name Facebook or another social media website as a contributing factor in the breakdown of their marriage. Social media activity can also have a tremendous impact during divorce and child custody proceedings. If you are considering divorce, you should know that the pictures, videos, and text you post on social media has the potential to significantly impact your divorce.

Social Media Posts Can Reveal Financial Information

Many people do not realize it, but text messages, email messages, and social media posts are admissible evidence in divorce proceedings that may even be subpoenaed. One way that social media often influences divorce is when a spouse shares something that reveals information about his or her finances. Decisions about child support, spousal maintenance, and property division are all largely based on the spouses’ financial circumstances. If a spouse is underreporting his or her income or assets in an attempt to gain financial advantage during divorce, social media posts may expose this deception. For example, if a husband claims that he cannot afford spousal maintenance payments but then posts a picture of a luxury car he just purchased, this could be used as evidence that he is lying about his true financial situation.

Social Media Can Affect Parental Responsibilities and Parenting Time

Divorcing parents often have disagreements about child custody and visitation which is officially called the “allocation of parental responsibilities” and “parenting time” in Illinois. There are several ways that social media posts can influence child custody matters. For example, imagine a scenario in which a husband and wife each want to have the majority of parenting time with the children. If the wife posts pictures of herself going out to bars several nights of the week when she is allegedly caring for the children, this could call into question her desire and ability to take on a large amount of parental responsibility. It is important to remember that even if you have your social media account set to “private,” there are still many ways that your social media activity could be used against you during divorce proceedings. The best way to avoid negative consequences from social media during divorce may be to simply take a break from social media websites until the divorce is finalized.

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DuPage County divorce lawyer for social mediaUnfortunately, divorce can bring out the worst in some people. If you are considering leaving your spouse, or if you have already decided to get divorced, you may have concerns about how he or she will take the breakup. Some spouses become resentful and meddlesome during the divorce process. They may attempt to gain access to their former partner’s email accounts, bank information, text messages, and more. You may need to take steps to protect your privacy during a contentious divorce, including:

Change Your Passwords

Many people mistakenly assume that if something is password-protected, no one can access it without the password. However, things become much more complicated when a couple who has shared computers, tablets, and cell phones are divorcing. For example, you may have previously logged on to your email using your spouse’s phone because your phone was out of battery. Many devices have settings that automatically remember usernames and passwords for easy future logins. Your spouse may therefore have your email password saved in his or her phone without you even knowing it. The safest bet is to change all of your passwords and security questions to something unique that your spouse will not be able to guess.  

Turn Off Location Sharing

A number of phone and computer applications and websites have location-sharing features. You may have turned on location tracking in order to share your location in the past. Double check that your spouse cannot access your whereabouts using features designed to help a person find their lost cell phone, such as “Find My iPhone” or “Android Device Manager.” You should also turn off location-sharing on social media accounts such as Facebook and Twitter.

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Wheaton divorce attorney for child custody and property divisionThere is no doubt that social media can have a huge impact on divorce proceedings and family law matters. Although you may not realize it, the things you post on social media can be admissible as evidence in court. If you are getting divorced, you should know that the messages, photographs, and other information you are sharing online may be scrutinized and potentially used against you.

Proceed With Caution When Using Social Media During Child Custody Disputes

If you and your spouse disagree about the allocation of parental responsibilities and parenting time, you should be especially cautious about what you post on social media. When Illinois courts are considering what type of parenting arrangement is in a child’s best interests, they will consider a wide range of factors listed in the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act, including the child’s relationship with his or her parents, the parents’ physical and mental health, and more. One factor that often gets overlooked is “the willingness and ability of each parent to facilitate and encourage a close and continuing relationship between the other parent and the child.” If you make disparaging comments about your spouse, it could be construed as an unwillingness to encourage a good relationship between your child and his or her other parent.

Social Media May Provide Clues About Financial Fraud

Courts can only make appropriate decisions about spousal maintenance, child support, and asset distribution when both parties are honest about their financial circumstances. If you suspect that your spouse may be lying about finances in order to manipulate the divorce settlement in his or her favor, social media may contain clues about this deception. For example, if you are pursuing spousal maintenance, your spouse may underreport his or her income in an attempt to avoid paying his or her fair share of alimony. However, if he or she posts pictures of expensive purchases and luxury vacations on Facebook, the court may have reason to look more closely into his or her true financial circumstances. If you have reason to suspect that your spouse is hiding assets, contact an experienced divorce attorney right away.

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