Can a Divorce Lawyer Subpoena Facebook Messages?

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Social media is a public forum where you have very little expectation of privacy. Your spouse can use any information that is lawfully retrieved. But, what if you remove your posts or delete your entire Facebook profile?

Attorneys are commonly subpoenaing the opponent’s social media records to obtain crucial evidence. In addition, attorneys are employing computer forensics techniques to mine data that was intentionally destroyed or erased. You can fight the subpoena, but your safest bet is to avoid producing negative evidence.

Assume your spouse will see everything

The best solution is to stay off your social media until your divorce is final. However, if you really can’t do without, assume that every picture and message you post may be viewed by your spouse. Also, assume that deleting won’t help, nor will switching your settings to private. With this mindset, you can avoid posting damaging evidence.

Don’t post pictures that make you look bad

When considering whether to post a picture, put yourself in the shoes of your spouse and the judge. How would they view the picture in light of your divorce? For example, wanting to blow off steam is understandable, but your spouse could use the picture of you with a beer in each hand to show that you are a partier who should not have primary custody of your child. Are you challenging a spousal support petition? A picture of your fabulous trip or new car could undermine your claims of financial difficulties.

Remember, the judge sees only the snapshot of the situation. In the above examples, possibly you only drank one beer that evening and were holding the other for a friend. Maybe your parents paid for your vacation. Don’t put yourself in the situation of having to explain the context of the photograph.

Don’t rant about your divorce

You can learn a valuable lesson from politicians, entertainers, executives, and other high-profile people: social media is not the right place to rant. Once the message goes out into the world, it may be impossible to retrieve or retract. Nothing good can come out of saying unkind things about your spouse. If you must rant, talk to a trusted friend or counselor.

Learn more about the use of social media as evidence during a California divorce

Do you have a Facebook page? Are you planning to file for divorce or already in divorce proceedings? Contact Fresno divorce lawyer Rebecca Medina to learn important information about protecting yourself from negative social media evidence.

Rebecca MedinaAbout the Author: Rebecca Medina

Rebecca Medina is an experienced family law attorney serving the Fresno area. She handles cases ranging from complex divorce matters to child custody, spousal support, domestic violence, and uncontested divorce cases. She was rated “Clients’ Choice” by Avvo.

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