The Internet is all abuzz with social media websites and Facebook is among the most well-known and popular of them all. In fact, statistics from February 2014 show that an estimated 57 percent of U.S. adults have a Facebook account. Social media users readily use sites like Facebook to share photos, post comments and express their likes and opinions about a variety of topics. Increasingly, the social media website is also being used by individuals attempting to gather evidence about an ex during divorce or child custody proceedings.
In 2010, 75 percent of divorce attorneys who responded to a survey by the American Association of Matrimony Lawyers admitted that Facebook is a “primary source of evidence in divorce cases.” Fast forward to 2015 and, along with Facebook’s popularity and membership, this number has likely increased.
Many people fail to realize just how much information can be derived from a Facebook account or the potential implications such evidence can have on divorce or child custody proceedings. Say for example that two parents are involved in a child custody dispute in which both are seeking primary custody and one parent has accused the other of being unfit. Photographs on Facebook showing that parent partying late at night or using illegal drugs may be used to support such claims and could impact a court’s decision.
Additionally, evidence from Facebook may point to a spouse’s infidelity, out-of-control spending habits or hidden assets all of which could impact divorce-related matters. When it comes to social media, nothing is truly hidden or private. In fact, even in cases where an individual deletes comments or photographs from a social media account, such information can likely be retrieved and may subsequently be viewed as even more damning because an individual attempted to hide it.
Individuals who are planning or going through a divorce would be wise to use caution when both attempting to access a spouse’s social media account and in one’s own social media practices. For individuals who believe an ex’s social media accounts contain important evidence, it’s wise to leave the retrieval of any such evidence up to one’s attorney. Additionally, individuals planning or going through a divorce should use extreme caution when using social media and should refrain from posting photographs or comments that could be used to prove or disprove divorce-related claims.
Source: FindLaw.com, “Facebook Divorce,” 2015