Social networking sites such as Facebook, MySpace and Twitter are becoming increasingly popular. However, one area of unexpected popularity is in the courtroom. An article published by USA Today discussed how sharing too much information on social networks has led to an overabundance of evidence in divorce cases. A survey revealed that 66% of lawyers cited Facebook indiscretions as the source of online evidence; MySpace followed with 15% and Twitter with 5%. The categories of evidence are expansive, from pictures of spouses cheating to a father forcing his son to de-friend mom, which would bolster mom’s alienation of affection claim against dad.
Some attorneys, without revealing the names of clients and violating the attorney-client privilege, gave examples of instances when social networks were cited as evidence:
1. While a husband was seeking primary custody of his children, husband also had a Match.com profile claiming his was single with no children.
2. Father seeks primary custody of his children, claiming the mother never attends the events of their children. Evidence was subpoenaed from the gaming site World of Warcraft, which revealed the mother on the site with her boyfriend at times when she was suppose to be out with her children. The same was revealed by Facebook’s Farmville.
3. A mother denies allegations of drug use in court but posts pictures of herself on Facebook partying and smoking marijuana.
Attorneys offered tips on how to ensure online personal lives do not end up in divorce court:
1. If you plan on claiming something in court, make sure there is nothing online that shows something to the contrary.
2. Be wary of who you confide in. A divorce can be very emotionally challenging and the desire to talk badly about your spouse is high. However, friends are likely to take sides during a couple’s divorce. The reality of it is, if you are going through a divorce that is the worst possible time to share your feelings online.
3. A picture is worth a thousand words. Do not post partying or sexually explicit photographs of yourself during a contentious divorce – the photos are great evidence.
4. Use your privacy settings.
To read more on this article see Social networks used as evidence in court.
Contact Wood, Atter & Wolf P.A. for legal representation in your divorce.