Stephen J. Buhler, Attorney at Law

How does the use of social media affect Utah divorces?

The world's fascination with technology has only grown with the increased use of the internet and, more recently, instant and continuous social media. While no doubt these developments can help foster relationships and build family life here in Utah, social media has had an interesting relationship with the legal nature of divorce.

One recent article discussed the use of social media to announce a divorce, highlighting varying opinions on its use. For some people, updating friends and the general on the status of a pending divorce may also have undesirable outcomes. When asked about their thoughts, a number of people opined that its use could be seen as tacky and inappropriate. On the other hand, many people aren't bothered by announcements - particularly those handled with tact - and see it as a good way to communicate. Regardless of opinion, as society evolves - and with it, how we communicate, it is unlikely that the issue will go away.

However, before tweeting, posting to Facebook or publishing a photo to Instagram announcing an impending separation, Utah residents should remember that during a divorce proceeding, almost everything one writes over the social media is potentially admissible in court. Those who use social media to vent frustrations, attack another party or post what may be considered inappropriate material may be shocked to find that material later used against them in a child custody dispute or other proceeding. Imprudent remarks over the social can even affect child support enforcement and alimony cases.

Social media in it various forms have become for many a form of therapy as much as it is a method for staying connected. Used prudently, it may serve its purpose to keep others informed without harming one's legal standing in the case of a contested divorce.

Social media will not be going away, and with each day that passes more and more records are created that may come under scrutiny from not only friends and family, but also the court in family law matters. As the technology improves, so does the public's s reliance and use, which may blur the line of what is truly private and be used against an individual in the court of law.

Source: IndyStar, "Tacky or tasteful: divorce announcement via social media," Dana Hunsinger Benbow, April 12, 2013

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