Facing Tennessee divorce? Be careful about your online activity

The public persona you project online can raise questions relevant to the outcome of your divorce.

For many Tennesseans, checking Facebook or Twitter every day is part of their routines, just a way to keep in touch with friends or check for news headlines. But if you are considering divorce, you should consider shutting down your social media accounts or at least severely restricting your online activity to only benign, noncontroversial subjects.

Financial Advisor Magazine reported on a 2015 American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers survey of its members' observations of this type of evidence:

  • Increase in evidence from mobile phones and other wireless devices: 97 percent
  • Apps were the source of most evidence: 67 percent
  • Top three apps used for evidence: Facebook, Twitter and Instagram

Protect your reputation

Certainly, you do not want to post anything either written or in images that could in any way imply that your behavior is less than respectable and responsible. In particular, you do not want to create questions about your behavior vis-à-vis your marriage, your role as a parent or your upcoming divorce such as:

  • Whether you are overspending marital funds or hiding assets
  • Whether you are at fault for causing the divorce
  • Whether you have engaged in behavior that could have alienated your spouse
  • Whether your behavior is that of a responsible parent
  • Whether you are associating with people who may not be good role models for your children

Why it matters in Tennessee

There are aspects of Tennessee family law that reflect the relatively conservative values of the state. For example, while when considering whether someone should receive or pay alimony, some states do not allow their courts to consider whether a spouse was at fault for causing the divorce, Tennessee alimony law specifically allows judges to consider the "relative fault" of the divorcing spouses.

Therefore, evidence of "fault" displayed on social media could negatively impact the alimony decision in favor of your spouse. In addition, arguing that you cannot afford generous alimony payments is less convincing if you post pictures of a lavish lifestyle.

Another way online evidence could be harmful is in property division. If it looks like one party is dissipating or wasting marital assets such as by excessive spending, the judge may believe it would be fair to divide assets favorably to the other party.

Finally, a parent facing divorce wants to be seen in the best light possible, since all custody decisions are made in the child's best interests.

Unfortunately, once something has been online, it is a permanent record even if you take it down. But still, you can take steps to minimize any potential harm. Talk to an experienced Tennessee family lawyer for thoughtful advice about how to do this.

Attorney Jeffrey Jones of The Law Office of Jeffrey Jones in Bartlett represents divorce clients throughout West Tennessee.