Divorce is a complex and emotional process that involves many legal issues. One common question is whether they can use their soon-to-be ex’s social media posts as evidence. The answer is not simple. It depends on several factors.
No-fault divorce state
Like many other states, Michigan is a no-fault divorce state. This means that you do not need to prove any wrongdoing by your spouse to get a divorce. The only ground for divorce is a breakdown of the marriage relationship that cannot be repaired.
Behavior is still relevant
This does not mean that your soon-to-be ex-spouse’s behavior is irrelevant to other aspects of your divorce, such as property division, spousal support and child custody. Social media posts may provide useful information that can affect these issues.
For example, if your spouse posts pictures that show that they are having an affair, spending money recklessly, abusing drugs or alcohol or neglecting the children, you may be able to use these posts as evidence to support your claims for more favorable terms in your divorce settlement. However, you cannot simply print out or screenshot your spouse’s posts and present them to the court. You need to follow the Michigan rules of evidence, which require that any evidence you submit must be relevant, authentic and not hearsay.
Relevance means that the evidence must logically connect to the legal issue. For example, if you are seeking spousal support, your spouse’s posts about their income or expenses may be relevant. But, if you are seeking child custody, your spouse’s posts about their political views may not be relevant.
Authenticity means that the evidence must be what it purports to be. For example, if you want to use your spouse’s Facebook post as evidence, you need to prove that it was actually posted by your spouse and not by someone else or altered in any way. You may need to provide additional information, such as the date and time of the post, device used to make the post or the identity of other people tagged in the post.
Hearsay means that the evidence must be based on personal knowledge and not on someone else’s statement. For example, if you want to use your spouse’s Facebook post as evidence, you need to prove that it is based on their own observation or experience and not on what someone else told them. You may need to provide context, such as what prompted it.
Using social media during a divorce can be tricky. You need to be careful about what you post yourself, and using their posts against them is not always easy.