Originally used as a way to find friends from the past and to keep up with the current activities of friends and acquaintances, social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter are now being used for an entirely new purpose — as evidence in divorce cases.
Because the whole point behind social networking sites is to share information, courts have ruled that the information an individual puts on his or her page, whether a post or a photo, is not confidential and can be used as evidence in court cases.
Social networking can have a detrimental effect on alimony or child custody decisions in those cases where one of the spouses has been less than honest with the court. For instance, a spouse who claims an inability to work in order to receive spousal support may ruin his or her claim if opposing counsel locates photos on Facebook showing the divorcing spouse performing physical activity. The Wall Street Journal recently reported how a woman’s posts about her belly dancing was enough for a Pennsylvania judge to rule she was not entitled to lifelong financial support from her soon-to-be ex-husband.
Custody of children is often a contentious issue when divorcing, and posts and photos parents put up on social networking sites can influence a judge’s decision. For example, photos or posts revealing a parent’s drug use may be enough to convince the court that the parent should not have custody of the child. Evidence is not limited to obvious examples of misbehavior. Anything deemed relevant to the issues contested in the divorce may be fair game when it comes to extracting information from social media sites.
With the increasing use of social media as evidence in court cases, obtaining custody and support can be more difficult than ever. If you are considering filing for divorce, you should speak with an experienced divorce lawyer who can help you decide the best way to proceed.