How social media can help (and hurt) your legal proceeding

No matter if you are divorcing, facing criminal charges, have civil litigation pending or another legal issue going on, keep an eye on your social media use. In fact, your lawyer may even advise you to stay off social media altogether.

This is because just one errant post or misinterpreted phrase can be devastating to your legal proceeding.

How social media hurts

Suppose you are enduring a hotly contested divorce, and make a post on Facebook about how you would like to wring your ex's neck. It was a joking comment made in a moment of frustration, but if your ex finds out about it, he or she could use it to bolster a parental alienation case or to argue that you cannot negotiate in good faith. Best to just say nothing.

Similarly, say that you suffered an injury in a car accident and are in large amounts of pain. You are pursuing a civil case for compensation and make a post saying something like, "Felt great today! Was able to walk for 30 minutes pain-free." This could be a huge aberration in your condition, or you overestimated the 30 minutes. Maybe you made the post simply so that your mother would not worry as much, and you are still in as much pain as ever. No matter what the case is, the other side can use the post to claim you are exaggerating your injuries.

How social media helps

The other side of the coin is that other people's blunders on social media can sometimes help your case. Maybe you know your ex has been hiding assets from you but you have had no way to prove it. All of the sudden, he or she is the new owner of a car featured prominently on his or her Facebook page. That information gives you a place to start looking into possibly concealed assets.

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