Social media could end up adversely affecting someone’s family law case in Massachusetts when caution is not used.

The Pew Research Center estimates that approximately seven out of 10 people living in the United States use social media in some way. Whether reconnecting with old friends or sharing posts of new family additions, people in Massachusetts should be aware that even with the strictest privacy settings, these posts are hardly private.

In fact, according to Massachusetts laws, any electronic or digital communication could be used in legal proceedings as evidence. Keeping that in mind, here are several ways that social media could play a role in a family law case:

1. Unearthing hidden assets

Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for people who are ending their marriage to begin taking stock of their property, and even squirreling away certain assets to prevent a spouse from having claim to it. There are a number of ways the behavior could be exposed, such as hiring a forensic accountant to review accounts.

Another way assets may be discovered is through social media posts. For example, one person may start taking lavish trips and buying expensive presents for people in an effort to deny a spouse access to the money. However, snapping pictures of those vacations and items and posting them online could clue someone into what is happening.

2. Affecting a child support case

Along the same vein as property division, posts on social media could reveal income that one person attempts to hide in order to avoid paying child support. In a support proceeding, parents are supposed to forthcoming about their financial situation. Someone who claims they have no money to pay child support and then posts a picture of a new car in the garage may be accused of falsifying information.

3. A damaging reputation

Any family law case has the potential to raise a number of different emotions. Divorce could bring about sadness and jealousy, a child custody battle could spark anger and resentment. This is a time where posts on social media could be damaging to someone’s case.

For example, a parent trying to gain custody of a child makes post after post about excessive drinking or drug use, late nights and other erratic behavior. The other parent could try to use this information in court to deny the parent custody or even visitation rights.

Generally, experts agree that people should not post anything on social media that they would not want brought up in the courtroom. That is a good rule of thumb not only for people involved in a legal battle, but also everyone using social sites. People who have concerns about this topic should speak with a family law attorney in Massachusetts.