The age of social media influencers has transformed the way many people earn a living. Platforms like Instagram, YouTube, and TikTok have created opportunities for content creators to generate income through various means, such as brand partnerships, sponsored posts, and affiliate marketing. However, this unconventional income source can complicate family law litigation, particularly when determining income for child support, alimony, and asset division. This article examines how social media income impacts family law cases and the steps attorneys can take to investigate such assets.
Influencer Income and Family Law Cases
The income generated by social media influencers may not be as straightforward as traditional salaries or wages. Influencers often have multiple income streams, such as advertising revenue, merchandise sales, and brand collaborations. They may also receive free products or services in exchange for exposure on their platforms, complicating the calculation of their actual income.
When determining income for family law cases, it is crucial for attorneys to understand and account for these various sources of revenue. They should investigate contracts, sponsorship deals, and other agreements that can provide insight into the influencer's financial landscape. Failure to do so could result in an inaccurate assessment of income, leading to unfair settlements or judgments.
Contracts and Assets: What Attorneys Should Look For
Attorneys investigating social media influencers' income should examine several types of contracts and agreements, including:
Platform-specific contracts: Influencers may have contracts with social media platforms themselves, outlining advertising revenue sharing or other financial arrangements.
Sponsorship and endorsement deals: Influencers often enter agreements with brands for sponsored content or product endorsements, which can provide significant income.
Affiliate marketing agreements: Influencers may earn a commission on sales generated through affiliate links or discount codes shared with their followers.
Merchandising contracts: Many influencers create and sell merchandise, such as clothing or accessories, to supplement their income.
Collaboration agreements: Influencers may collaborate with other content creators or brands, sharing revenue from joint projects.
To uncover these contracts and agreements, attorneys can request financial records, search public databases, or subpoena relevant parties. It may also be necessary to engage a forensic accountant to analyze the influencer's financial information.
Request for Production Clauses
During the discovery process, attorneys can request specific information related to social media income using Request for Production clauses. Here are 20 examples:
All contracts, agreements, or understandings between the Respondent and any social media platforms.
Any agreements or contracts for sponsored content or brand partnerships.
All affiliate marketing agreements and commission statements.
Records of income generated from merchandise sales.
Any collaboration agreements between the Respondent and other content creators or brands.
Records of any gifts, free products, or services received in exchange for social media promotion.
Tax returns and financial statements for the past five years.
Bank statements reflecting income from social media activities.
Payment invoices or receipts for sponsored content or brand partnerships.
Documentation of revenue sharing agreements with social media platforms.
Reports or statements detailing advertising revenue from social media platforms.
Records of any legal disputes related to social media income.
Correspondence with brands or companies related to sponsored content or endorsements.
Social media analytics reports for the past three years.
Records of any business entities established for managing social media income.
Copies of any licensing agreements for intellectual property associated with social media activities.
Records of any travel expenses paid for or reimbursed by brands or companies.
Any consulting agreements related to social media activities.
Copies of any non-disclosure agreements related to social media income or partnerships.
Documentation of any income received from social media or brands.
Examples of Possible Written Interrogatories to Ask
Here are 15 interrogatories that an attorney could ask a social media influencer to determine income and assets:
Please list all social media platforms on which you maintain a presence and the number of followers or subscribers on each platform.
Have you entered into any contracts or agreements with social media platforms related to revenue sharing, advertising, or any other financial arrangement? If so, please provide details.
Please describe any sponsored content or brand partnership deals you have engaged in within the last five years, including the brand, the terms of the agreement, and the compensation received.
Do you participate in any affiliate marketing programs? If so, please provide details about the programs, the commission rates, and the income generated.
Have you created and sold any merchandise related to your social media presence? If so, please provide details on the merchandise, sales revenue, and any associated expenses.
Have you collaborated with other content creators or brands on joint projects or ventures? If so, please describe the projects, the terms of the agreements, and the income generated.
Have you received any gifts, free products, or services in exchange for social media promotion? If so, please provide details and the estimated fair market value of these items.
Please provide a summary of your total income from all social media-related activities for each of the past five years.
Have you established any business entities, such as corporations or LLCs, to manage your social media income? If so, please provide details, including the entity name, structure, and ownership.
Do you have any licensing agreements related to intellectual property associated with your social media activities? If so, please provide details, including the terms of the agreements and the income generated.
Have you consulted for any companies or individuals in connection with your social media activities? If so, please provide details, including the scope of the consulting services, compensation, and duration of the agreements.
Have you had any legal disputes or claims related to your social media activities or income? If so, please provide details and the outcomes of these disputes.
Have you entered into any non-disclosure agreements related to your social media income, partnerships, or other business activities? If so, please provide details.
Please provide a list of all financial accounts, including bank accounts, investment accounts, and digital wallets, which have been used to receive, manage, or disburse income related to your social media activities.