It used to be if a spouse wanted to get the dirt on their wife or husband in a contested custody or divorce case, they had to shell out a lot of money to a private investigator. Now, all it often takes is a perusal of the errant spouse’s social media accounts and a few screen-grabs.

If you are engaged in a court battle with a soon-to-be ex or a former spouse, you have to be circumspect about your online exposure. If you fail to reduce your social media footprint and your adversary is able to uncover potentially damaging evidence against you, you will only have yourself to blame.

Welcome to divorce in the digital age

There is nothing inherently wrong with sharing snippets of your life on social media. Posting adorable shots of your kids, or sharing cat videos or new recipes is pretty mundane, after all. But not all social media posts, photos and status updates are that benign.

If you are seeking sole custody of your kids or want to dodge supervised visitation, all it takes to tank your case is one bleary-eyed shot of you dancing on the bar to call your character into question.

It’s not just social media

Many people don’t realize that their text messages and emails could be subpoenaed by their ex’s attorney and turned against them. They might think, “So what. My emails don’t contain anything damaging.”

But they may reveal more than you want to come out in court. Suppose you are interviewing for a job in Boston that will involve your moving away from Nashua. Your emails on this matter could potentially affect the outcome of the custody case pending in the New Hampshire courts. Whether you intended to take the job or not could be a moot point if opposing counsel can paint you as less than interested in being a full-time parent to your kids.

Perception isn’t reality

What people perceive when they look at a photo online is not necessarily what actually happened. But tell that to the judge over your custody case if a friend of yours posts a shot that suggests you might be driving while intoxicated or living larger than your financial documentation indicates you are able.

This means that you not only have to restrict your own posts but also not get caught up in a situation where somebody takes and posts a questionable photo of you on your night out on the town.

Beware of the trolls

Don’t lull yourself into complacency with the idea that because you have your ex blocked on social media that they still cannot access your account. Viewing your posts on a mutual friend’s page or even “friending” you from a fake profile can offer unfettered access into posts you thought were inaccessible.

Consider how it might play out in court to see you enjoying an expensive spa day with friends when you are petitioning for increased spousal or child support. The fact that this extravagance may have been paid for entirely by others may not mitigate the damage it causes to your case.

If you have any concerns whatsoever that your social media account might prove problematic, discuss those concerns with your New Hampshire family law attorney immediately.