WhatsApp messages and Facebook posts could have an impact on your divorce in South Africa

With a significant increase in the use of platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and WhatsApp, social media is increasingly popping up in divorce proceedings, says Gabriella Keeble, a legal expert at SchoemanLaw.

Further studies have shown a direct correlation between social media use in a marriage and a breakdown in the quality of the marriage, she said.

“In addition to the negative effects on real-life relations, it can also affect your rights in divorce proceedings as well as any settlement amount you are entitled to receive. Consequently, social media becomes an important point of consideration during divorce actions as it can reveal infidelity, which is useful as a ground for divorce.”

Keeble said that social media is increasingly being used as evidence in divorce proceedings, and during the divorce process, it is expected that social media activity will be probed.

As a result, there are a few essential things to consider regarding social media usage in divorce proceedings, she said.

  • Firstly, ensure that you do not post anything that could be to your detriment in court – especially if the post may potentially affect your property division, parenting plan and settlement agreements.
  • Secondly, have a conversation with your friends and family that they should not share any embarrassing content of you on social media.
  • Thirdly, attempt to reach an agreement with your spouses on content to be posted, especially where children are involved. Finally, don’t post anything that you would not want to be led as evidence or used against you in court.

“One needs to be mindful and exercise caution in relation to what information is being posted,” said Keeble.

“While it may be tempting to use social media as a support system, it is crucial that spouses avoid revealing any information relating to the case. In addition to social media, one also needs to be cautious of the information shared via networking websites, emails and even text messages.”

She added that it is not only the spouse’s social media accounts that are of relevance.

“If there are children involved, the social media accounts of the children should also remain under scrutiny as any of their posts may also be used as evidence in the divorce proceedings, and it would be unfortunate if innocent posts are misconstrued.

“However, it is important to remember that social media can work in your favour as it can reveal critical information relating to your spouse.”

Social media has a significant effect on your divorce proceedings, from settlement agreements right down to parental rights which can be afforded to you, Keeble said.

“It is important to limit the usage of your social media to prevent your social media posts from being misconstrued and having detrimental impacts on the outcome of your divorce proceedings.”

Read: These WhatsApp messages can now land you in serious legal trouble in South Africa

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WhatsApp messages and Facebook posts could have an impact on your divorce in South Africa