In recent years, with the surge in the use of social media platforms such as Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram, married people’s activities on these sites have either become the cause of divorce or been used as evidence in divorce cases.

A study published in the “Journal of Cyberpsychology, Behavior and Social Networking,” found that people who use Facebook more than once an hour are more likely to “experience Facebook-related conflict with their romantic partners.”

The study was conducted by doctoral students at the University of Missouri School of Journalism, University of Hawaii at Hilo and St. Mary’s University in San Antonio.

Because of the connectivity social media provides, people in relationships are able to reconnect with old partners and physically or emotionally cheat or snoop on their partners, resulting in jealousy and instability in the relationship.

In addition, social media posts can also be used against you in divorce proceedings. A 2010 survey of the American Association of Matrimony Lawyers showed that two-thirds of American lawyers use Facebook as a primary source of evidence in divorce cases.

Here are five examples of evidence that lawyers can gather from social media and use in a divorce case:

  • Compromising photos of partying with alcohol

Child custody is one of the most contentious issues in divorce. In California, the decision of who has physical custody and how often the noncustodial parent has time with the child, is based on what is in the best interest of the child.

Naturally, the court will look at evidence regarding each party’s parenting skills. While not all prejudicial evidence is admissible, evidence regarding a parent’s partying lifestyle may become useful if, for example, the parent had the child in his or her custody during the time that he or she is posting pictures on social medial of partying with alcohol.

As such, if you’re contemplating or going through divorce that involves child custody issues, it’s best to stay off of social media, unless you’re posting about your wonderful parenting skills.

  • Checking in or being tagged when parent is supposed to be with child

Many people like to check-in at nice places to tell their friends what a great life they have. Other times, our friends tag us in photos or on check-ins without our knowledge and consent.

This can also be harmful to your child custody case. Imagine that you have custody of your child during the weekend and your friends check you in at a nice restaurant or bar and post photos of your drinks.

A question may be raised that if you are so eager to have your child on the weekends, then why are you out partying. It would be wise to tell your friends not to tag you without asking you first.

  • Posts related to luxury purchases or travel that indicate a wealthy lifestyle

Child and spousal support are also issues in divorces. While California has a guideline formula for child support and temporary spousal support, where the parties end up in heavy litigation is if one or both of them are not showing their true income, especially if one or both are self-employed.

Lawyers often try to reverse engineer the other party’s income by showing the expenses they are able to pay for each month without getting into debt, rather than rely on the income the party discloses.

As such, if your posts show off expensive purchases or travel, you can be sure that the opposing attorney will show these posts to the judge to claim that you are under-reporting your income. Again, it’s best to keep these types of posts off of your social media.

  • Posts with new partners that may anger your spouse and make settlement difficult

It is no secret that parties going through a divorce are emotionally charged and that such emotions impact their decisions. The goal of any litigation should be to get out of it as inexpensively and painlessly as possible.

If you start posting on social media about your new love and how happy you are to have found “someone that makes you happy,” you can be sure that your soon-to-be-ex will not be happy about that.

Scorned spouses make for terrible litigation opponents. As a result, your case may become more difficult than it should and you may end up spending a lot more money on your lawyer than you would have, had your spouse not been so angry at you. Accordingly, keep your newfound love off of social media and tell him or her not to post about you.

  • Nasty posts about your spouse that may get back to him and make settlement difficult

Finally, do not post negative comments about your soon-to-be-ex even indirectly. We have all seen memes and other jokes about exes. Save them for after the divorce is finalized.

First, as stated above, an angry litigation opponent will drive up the cost of litigation. Second, if there is a custody issue, the court will not look favorably on a parent who badmouths the other parent, especially in front of the child.

Your spouse’s divorce lawyer may argue that if you are doing it on social media, then you are also doing it in front of the child, which is a big no-no.

The best approach is to be careful on social media. Understand that your posts may be used against you in any divorce proceeding. Use good judgment when posting anything, keeping in mind that you want to present yourself as a good parent with a reasonable lifestyle.