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SOCIAL MEDIA POSTINGS DURING DIVORCE: THE DANGERS

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Article by listed attorney: Fawzia Khan

If you are going through a divorce or even contemplating getting divorced, it’s useful to take stock of what personal information or photographs you post online. This is to prevent unwanted and otherwise confidential information being used against you in the divorce proceedings. Social media platforms such as Facebook, What’s App, Twitter, Instagram LinkedIn, MySpace and many other such social platforms can often provide a useful source of information to divorce attorneys, especially if it’s likely to contradict what you say in your litigation pleadings. This could then be successfully used against you to disprove your allegations or claims. Online postings can serve as a good indicator of what assets or a lifestyle a person has and again this can be used against the person who claims otherwise in court proceedings. I have come across a number of cases where divorce litigants would post about an expensive holiday they have taken or brag about a new job online, whilst claiming poverty when it came to offering maintenance to his or her dependents.

Your online profile should be exactly the same as the person you portray in the court documents. Your ex and possibly his or her attorney is more than likely to be scanning your online activities to use it against you, if anything incriminating is found. Be circumspect about what you say online about your ex or even about the children. Even though your ex may have wronged you, it’s best to leave the venting to your ‘BF’ or someone close to you rather than bad mouth your ex or air your frustrations on a public platform.  

Pictures or postings made online can serve as a direct evidence of your suitability of being a good parent or lack thereof. This could negatively affect your claim for say contact to your minor children or even affect your claim for primary residency of the children. Section 28 of the Constitution as well as the Children’s Act talks about the best interest of the child remaining paramount. This means the court would be compelled to take into account all aspects of your lifestyle when making decisions around your minor children. Some examples could be pictures posted online of a person who is clearly intoxicated or out of control, or perhaps captured frequenting casinos or even houses of ill-repute or postings of such behaviour. Similarly, posting updates on video games, which show that an unusually long period of time is spent on these pastimes, could also be used against you.

It would therefore be far more prudent not to engage with others on these public social platforms whilst divorce proceedings are under way.  Providing online updates on your litigation proceedings is a definite no-no. Even if you have blocked your ex from a particular social media platform, chances are pretty good that someone known to both of you could forward that posting about your personal life and it could be used against you. Should you say anything which compromises your divorce case, you can be sure that if it comes to the attention of your ex’s attorneys there’s a very good chance of it being used against you.

My advice to any person who is embroiled in  acrimonious divorce proceedings is to stop all social media interaction involving your personal life, until a settlement is reached or the divorce is finalized.

Know your rights! The Law Desk of Fawzia Khan & Associates. Giving YOU the Power of Attorney. Email fawzia@thelawdesk.co.za or call 031-5025670 for legal assistance at competitive rates.