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Social Media and Divorce

It’s a different world now, with Facebook, Twitter and other social media networks available to anyone with a computer or a smartphone…and that applies to divorce proceedings, too. Many parties to divorce have started to use social media sites to gather evidence in family law disputes. What can seem like innocent posts—pictures from a vacation or of a new car—can be used to question your need for support or to show that you have the capacity to pay more than your order states.

While state ethics committees have started attempts to rein in certain online activities by lawyers in divorce cases—two New Jersey attorneys face disciplinary charges for having a paralegal “friend” the ex of a client—it’s still prudent to keep any opinions, remarks or comments about your divorce off the Internet. Judges have been known to consider statements made on Facebook when making custody decisions, and any evidence properly obtained online can be used against you. For example, pictures posted from a party or bar to a public site may be used to question your qualifications as a parent.

Unfortunately, you may be a victim of social media posts by well-meaning friends and family. It’s a good idea to tell loved ones that, until your divorce is final, you request that they not post any comments about you or pictures of you on any social media site. And it goes without saying that you should never use any social media outlet to speak disparagingly of your ex-spouse (or of your children, as did one mom who subsequently lost custody).

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At the office of Linda Stewart Law, PLLC, in Baytown, we bring more than 8 years of experience to clients in south Texas. To learn how we can help, call our office at (281) 420-8020 or contact us online. We offer an initial consultation at a reduced fee of $50. We accept credit cards and will set up a payment plan, if appropriate. Our offices are open Monday through Thursday, from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m., and until noon on Fridays. Evening and weekend appointments can be arranged upon request.

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Your Status Update Could Come Back to Haunt You

Two years ago, the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (AAML) reported that one in five divorces used evidence from Facebook and other social networking sites like Myspace and Twitter. In February 2013, the AAML reported a newly popular source of evidence in divorce cases – dating sites like Match.com and Plenty of Fish.

One would think the lesson would be obvious. If you are married or in the middle of a divorce, stay off the online dating sites. Be cautious – and truthful – with your social media comments and status updates. Apparently, though, these are not obvious lessons to four out of five divorcing spouses.

How could social media be used in divorce cases? Here are some examples:

  • Your online dating profile says you have no children and want none. Your spouse uses it as evidence in your child custody fight.
  • The vast majority of Facebook photos tagged with your name show you at a party with a drink in hand. Your spouse uses it as evidence in her argument for limited parenting time.
  • You say you have limited income and are unable to pay spousal support but post a photo or video of your new sports car.
  • A friend tags a photo of you being intimate with a new girlfriend or boyfriend, but you dispute allegations of infidelity.
  • You claim business trips or medical appointments as reasons you are unavailable for visitation with your children, but your social media posts reveal that you were in fact on vacation or in town and not at a medical appointment.
  • You update your LinkedIn status with new employment information but claim continuing unemployment as a reason you are unable to pay child support.
  • You claim you have no problems with anger management but post frequent status updates threatening physical violence.

The Privacy Rights Clearinghouse publishes an online fact sheet regarding privacy concerns when using social media – Social Networking Privacy: How to be Safe, Secure and Social.

Stewart Law, PLLC, located in Baytown, Texas, is well-versed in obtaining and countering social media evidence in divorce cases. We have provided legal counsel to men and women in divorce and family law matters for 8 years. For an initial assessment and consultation of your case, contact us online or call our office at (281) 420-8020, at a reduced fee of $50.

 
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