Divorce Articles

More Divorce Information

Social Networking and Divorce

Goldman Sachs and the Digital Sky Technologies recently injected $500 million into Facebook, to keep it from going public for at least one more year. The social network was valued at $27 billion in August 2009 and is currently valued at $50 billion.

While these valuations are sizeable, and show almost a 50 percent increase over less than half a year, some say that the vehicle for reconnecting with long-lost friends is actually invaluable. In fact, Facebook is reuniting more than friends and family members; some are using it to rekindle old flames - even married ones.

Facebook as Evidence

The explosion of social networking sites is creating new pockets of evidence in divorce cases. A recent survey by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (AAML) found that 81 percent of member attorneys say they have seen an increase in the number of divorce cases that use evidence from social networking sites or platforms. Two out of three are now utilizing Facebook as a primary source for evidence.

Facebook's growing importance as a source of evidence for attorneys with clients involved in divorce and child custody proceedings is becoming undeniable.

One lawyer from Columbus says that Facebook and cell phone records are the first places she looks for evidence of infidelity. In fact, she goes so far to say that any attorney worth his or her salt will check Facebook when there are contested issues regarding custody or grounds for divorce.

Some spouses discover suspect posts when their spouse accidentally forgets to log out of the family computer. Others may read through messages when their partner leaves their phone sitting unattended. Evidence of these communications can then be used against the cheating spouse in court. Even if a spouse does not directly discover suspicious posts by their partner, the content may still make its way into a divorce proceeding.

Protecting Instead of Posting

Those contemplating divorce, or with an active case pending, may want to delete or hide their social networking profiles until the divorce is final. If they choose not to forego social networking sites during the divorce, they should at least carefully examine their privacy settings.

Posts by those with public profiles can be viewed by the spouse, the spouse's attorney, children of the marriage, or anyone else who is looking. Even with some privacy settings in place, "friends of friends" may still be able to gain access to a party's account and relay information to the other side.

Furthermore, it is not always clear with which spouse a mutual friend will side. Status updates or pictures may end up being conveyed to the other party and used against the posting spouse. Additionally, discovery rules for legal proceedings allow either spouse to request records from the other, which may include social networking site information.

Even when there are no concerns about infidelity, spouses may want to exercise particular caution when posting certain photos and information. For instance, posting pictures of large purchases or expensive vacations may draw attention to assets, and provide evidence for a spouse seeking a larger share in the division of property.

Spouses should also be careful not to post statements that are contrary to the testimony they plan on giving in court. Posting photos from parties, with alcohol or showing a new partner should be published with caution. Although they may seem harmless at the time of posting, such images may provide information that could potentially be used against the posting spouse in court, especially in cases with child custody battles.

Other Electronic Communication

Facebook is not the only technology divorcing couples should be wary of using. Below are other forms of electronic communication that may haunt parties in a divorce proceeding:

  • Voicemails and text messages
  • E-mail and instant messages
  • Dating websites
  • YouTube videos
  • Personal blogs and websites
  • Other networking sites including Twitter, LinkedIn, MySpace and Foursquare
  • Any online surfing is difficult to completely erase and can usually be recovered

Contact an Attorney

Anyone contemplating a divorce should speak with an experienced family law attorney. A savvy divorce lawyer can advise you about the use of social networking sites and other forms of electronic communication, including how to obtain records from the other side and how to protect yourself from such information being used against you.

Read More - Click To Expand Text