Facebook and other social media sites are part of normal life for most people in Alberta and across the world. Many use their social media to learn of news events, find tips for health and homemaking, and lighten their day with amusing videos. Mostly, however, social media is a forum for free expression of one’s opinions and sharing life events with friends and family. While this may seem innocent enough, social media posts can derail cases involving family law matters.

The casual status updates of Facebook or the photos that seem too funny not to share can come back to bite the poster who happens to be involved in a legal battle. More often, opposing sides are gaining court orders to access social media pages in search of evidence that the account holder is not being truthful. While social media information is useful in criminal cases as well as insurance claims, in family law, the issues can be deeply personal.

Pictures of expensive purchases, for example, may defeat a spouse’s claim for spousal support. In more than one case, a parent has used social media posts as evidence that the other parent is lying by claiming unemployment to escape child support obligations. Pictures and posts of inappropriate or illegal behaviour have destroyed child custody cases for more than one hopeful parent.

Because of the sensitive nature of social media, some in Alberta who are engaged in family law matters decide to suspend or even delete their Facebook accounts. However, this may not be the wisest move since it may arouse suspicion that one is hiding evidence. For advice about the best course of action related to one’s social media accounts during a divorce or other matter, it is a good idea to seek legal counsel.