Social media sites are like open letters or mailboxes, with people tending to forget that some things they view as essentially private and available for scrutiny only to a few select friends can actually be seen and passed along to an audience ultimately numbering in the thousands. Truthfully, and given the sheer scope of the Internet, a picture, a comment, a download — an indiscretion — can be viewed by, potentially, scores of millions of people.

Those are not good odds for someone posting personal information online who doesn’t regard it as truly “public.” That is especially true for any person involved in a family law matter, such as a divorce, child custody battle, alimony dispute or other issue.

We have commented on the rapidly increasing presence and role of social media in divorce-related matters in prior blog posts. Those who know most about it — divorce attorneys, judges, law clerks — say that social media in divorce court is truly something to be reckoned with, as online information is now brought routinely to the attention of judges and increasingly influencing judicial rulings.

Consider: A spouse claiming inability to pay child or spousal support and then posting pictures of an expensive vacation; a parent challenging the morals of an ex-partner and then being challenged in turn by a number of lewd online pictures; photos of illicit drug use at home while a child is being cared for.

Here is a piece of advice from a social media expert: If you are involved in any type of family law matter in which a judge will ultimately weigh in, just assume that he or she can — and probably will — become privy to any damaging online evidence that concerns you.

Related Resource: Huffington Post, “Social Media Represents Minefield in Divorce Landscape” Aug. 8, 2011