Divorce & Social Media: Your Instagram Posts Can Be Used Against You
With the popularity of social media apps like Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat, it is common for many people to have heavily curated online personas. These online-personas are often differentiated from our real-life identity because they exaggerate and highlight only the best parts of life. It is not uncommon for people to make it seem like they are rich, popular and successful when the reality is quite different.
If you are going through a separation/divorce however, you must carefully consider your social media posts because, as the father in a recent court case found, your posts can be used against you.
The case: Biniaminov v. Biniaminov, 2018 ONSC 5454
In this case, the father sought to change pervious orders of the court made in 2016 regarding child support. The mother argued the father’s motion should fail because he was behind in child support.
The father acknowledged that he owed the mother over $15,000.00 in child support but argued that this was a result of “business and health related challenges”.
In the final decision, Justice David A. Jarvis ruled that the father had a number of “credibility issues”. Two pieces of evidence led the court to this conclusion:
1. The father swore a financial statement in May 2014 that he earned no income. However, about one month later, he made a mortgage applications representing an annual income of $150,000. The court concluded that he either lied to the court or to the lender. The father’s lawyers said his financial statement was true and that he lied to the lender.
2. The father posted a number of photos to his Instagram account in which he suggested that he owned very expensive items including a Rolex watch, a condominium and a motorcycle.
Lawyers for the father argued that the photos were not reality; rather Rolex wasn’t his, and the motorcycle was recently sold.
Most significantly, Justice Jarvis opined that “individually these isolated representations may be innocent but, collectively viewed, they raise serious questions about the father’s credibility, particularly when viewed in light of his earlier misrepresentation to his mortgage lender…also, why would a person be posting on an Instagram account pictures representing a certain lifestyle when, as the father has represented to this court, he does not enjoy that lifestyle at all?”
The court found that the father was wilfully non-compliant with the Order to pay child support and was “unpersuasive” about the explanations about his arrears and his reduced income.
What can we learn from this case?
1. Don’t lie about your finances! Evading child support by misleading the court on your finances will never work. Be upfront and offer full and frank disclosure from the start or suffer credibility issues going forward.
2. Carefully consider your social-media posts; in this case, the father’s social media persona worked against him. You may want to consider shutting down all social media accounts while going through separation/divorce.