Most of us give very little thought to what we post on social media day to day. We certainly aren’t worried about how it could impact any future litigation against us.
Unfortunately, we never know what the future holds. An unanticipated illness or accident could place us in litigation over our entitlement to social security benefits. An unexpected auto accident could place us in a personal injury lawsuit.
In the family law arena, unexpected divorce litigation can catch one spouse by surprise and off-guard. When that spouse is suddenly served with divorce papers, prior social media postings can take on a life of their own. It’s too late then to clean up any social media messes we may have unintentionally preserved by posting online.
You see, the Florida Bar has recently proposed a guideline that would ethically bar Florida attorneys from advising a client to clean up their social media pages during litigation or even when litigation is reasonably forseeable. Your lawyer can’t tell you to edit or delete your social media postings because they are obligated not to interfere with the preservation of evidence, even if that evidence will hurt your side of the litigation.
If you decide to do it independently, maybe before you file for divorce or before you hire an attorney in your case, you are potentially creating real trouble for yourself. You can be severely sanctioned for spoliation of evidence if you have deactivated your social media accounts, edited them to remove materials, or deleted them when the accounts contain material relevant to reasonably forseeable litigation. Don’t do it.
So how to avoid these unnecessary woes? As the old adage says, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”. Since you never know when you can suddenly become a party to litigation, practice common sense restraint on a daily basis in your social media postings. For every post, ask yourself whether you would want your judge in any type of future litigation to see it. If you hesitate, it’s probably better not to post it. Also consider using your maximum privacy setting on each of your social media websites.
The Law Office of Jeanne Coleman has over twenty-five years of experience in successfully guiding Tampa Bay clients through family law, social security disability and dependency cases. Call today for a consultation. Jeanne can represent you on a limited basis or in your entire case. She will work with you to customize a plan meeting your legal needs on a case-by-case basis.