Following up on my recent blog entry talking about the impact of social networking sites such as Facebook and MySpace on the world of divorce, a recent article from the Star Ledger by Sue Epstein (no relation despite our interest in the same topic) discusses how divorcing couples are turning to these websites for evidence to use in their matrimonial proceedings or to simply talk about the divorce itself. The article states that more than 80% of the nation’s top divorce attorneys have seen an increase in cases involving social networking evidence pursuant to a survey by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, with more than 66% of such evidence found on the ever popular and enduring Facebook.
Evidence found on these sites may be used for any number of purposes. Examples cited in the article include using evidence found on a child’s Facebook page in a custody proceeding, to locate a person to simply serve them with a divorce complaint, to prove adultery where the party lists themselves in their site profile as "single," or even to prove wealth or ownership of assets when the ability to pay support is in dispute.
Children all too often are dragged into their parents’ divorce disputes, and, not uncommonly, encounter postings by their parents on Facebook and other sites discussing the other spouse, the divorce, and the like. Oftentimes parties do not realize that not only can potentially hundreds, to thousands of people see the postings, but their children can as well. The emotional impact of such a finding can be dramatic, in addition to impacting the outcome of a custody dispute.
As I suggested in my prior posting, posting anything about yourself on these social networking sites essentially makes your life an "open book." To do so in the context of divorce or custody proceeding, however, may ultimately play a part in determining the outcome of your case.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Whether it is Facebook, MySpace, emails or text messages, people often tend to be their own worst enemies in divorce, emboldened to put certain things in writing that they would never say at loud. Once something is in writing and is either posted on the internet or the "send" button is clicked, it is potentially around forever. All to often, these items create excellent evidence for various purposes in a divorce. So if you are going through a divorce, a good idea is to get off of Facebook and/or Myspace, or if you wont, at least be very judicious in what you disclose. Consider not posting pictures of your children especially if that will lead to a battle. Don’t disclose you relationship status and post frequent updates about it. Carefully read and re-read emails to your spouse, ex-spouse and others to make sure that they are not provocative or can otherwise be used against you. Think "less is more" or "Joe Friday" ("just the facts.") The case you save can be your own. Eric S. Solotoff