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How is Social Media Used in Family Law Cases? [April 2023]

Sometimes the most obvious evidence is right at our fingertips. Social media has become an integral part of our daily lives, with millions of users generating content every second. With the increasing use of social media, it’s not surprising that the content generated on these platforms has become valuable evidence in court proceedings in recent years. In court cases, social media posts can be argued as a digital record of a person’s thoughts, activities, and beliefs that can be used as evidence. The content posted on social media platforms can provide a wealth of insight into a person’s behavior, personality, relationships, and mental state.

In today’s digital age, our actions and words are often recorded forever through social media posts. Anything posted on social media platforms can remain online for a very long time and in some cases may never be fully removed. Even something as simple as a tweet or status update can potentially be used against us years later, and it’s essential to be aware of the implications of our online behavior. Moreover, deleting a post doesn’t necessarily make it disappear completely, as screenshots or reproductions of the original post could still be circulating and accessible online. Even if privacy settings are set to only allow friends or followers to view posts, the possibility of data breaches or hacks means that content could still be exposed to the public.

Here are some examples of how social media is used in Colorado family law cases:

  • Posts or comments that make derogatory mention of the other party
  • Posts or comments referring to the court case, the lawyers involved, or even the assigned Judge
  • Photos showing a party drinking or using drugs
  • Photos of a party proving their whereabouts such as a photo of one party at a bar during their scheduled parenting time
  • Photos which are sexually suggestive
  • Posts or comments evidencing a party’s financial conditions (For example, a litigant may argue to the court that they lack the resources to pay child support or maintenance yet have social media content showing a lavish lifestyle.)

There are limitations and challenges, however, to using social media as evidence. Some argue that social media profiles can be fake, anonymized, or hacked, making it difficult to verify the identity of the user posting content. Additionally, social media posts may be taken out of context or falsified, requiring additional investigations to verify their authenticity. Lastly, the privacy settings of social media platforms can be set such that the intended audience of the content is limited in nature.

Notwithstanding these challenges, the use of social media as evidence in court is becoming more widespread. Attorneys and judges are increasingly recognizing the value of social media content in determining the outcome of cases, making it important to carefully consider the impact of social media posts before posting them.

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