Do courts care about social media?

Facebook, Twitter, texting, Skype, e-mail chats, iPhones and Androids have infiltrated and consumed the way we communicate in our professional and personal lives. But how does the Virginia Court system view these posts, tweets and texts?

With more validity than you might think.

Much in the same way ‘Distracted Driving’ (texting and driving or talking on your cell phone while driving) have become traffic violations in most states, Virginia legislation is quickly acknowledging the content of social media as potential evidence in a court of law. For family law, this means that in many cases throughout Virginia, text messages, e-mails and other media content have been admitted as evidence for divorce and child custody cases.

Of course, there are a series of challenges to understand when it comes to this kind of information being used as evidence. For example, take a fault-based divorce case. An e-mail or a text message on it’s own is not sufficient grounds for divorce, but it can be used to confirm testimony.

Don’t forget also that information like text messages, e-mails and Facebook posts need to be proven. For instance, it needs to be proven, without a doubt, that the person who pays the phone bill and owns the phone is the same person that sent the text messages.

The key is that ‘clear and convincing’ evidence, which is relevant to the matter at hand, is exhibited. If there is an overwhelming number of text messages, e-mails, financial records, and social media all pointing towards the same alleged offense, the combination can be permissible evidence in family court. If interested in exploring the intricacies or social media policy, the National Center for State Courts put together a Social Media Resource Guide to help you. 

This only scratches the surface of social media’s significance, yet indeterminacy, in Virginia’s family court system. If you feel like you need guidance in your divorce or child custody case, our Virginia attorneys at Smith Strong PLC are here to support you. Call (804) 325-1245 to schedule a consultation.