According to a 2010 survey of members of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, 81% of the attorneys polled said they had seen in increase in the amount of evidence derived from social networking sites, with Facebook being the #1 most mentioned site in divorce cases. Another study by the Journal of Cyberpsychology found that excessive Facebook users were more likely to ‘experience Facebook-related conflict with their romantic partners.’
Facebook, of course, is not the cause of divorce, but it can be an awfully good facilitator. Social media make it much easier to connect and communicate with a wide range of acquaintances. They also make it a lot easier to flirt, stay in touch with old flames, hook up with new ones, or simply to share foolish or inappropriate things with your friends. And all of these activities can be discovered and admitted as evidence in your divorce proceedings.
If you are going through a divorce, it’s important to take some common sense steps to protect your privacy and keep your online information out of the courtroom. Here are some tips for keeping yourself out of trouble on Facebook:
Be discreet! Avoid posting information about yourself that might be incriminating. That means don’t boast about how much you drank last night, don’t post photos that might be deemed inappropriate or obscene, don’t flaunt pictures of a new paramour where your ex might see them, or talk about using illegal drugs or engaging in any other criminal activities. In short, don’t say or do anything online that you wouldn’t say in front of a judge.
Don’t make claims in court that can be contradicted by online evidence. Don’t create a false identity or provide false information about yourself. Don’t claim to be doing something at one place and time when your computer records indicate that you were at a different place doing something different at that same time. Make sure that anything you plan on testifying about in court corroborates with the information available about you online.
Don’t share your feelings online. Divorce can be an incredibly emotional experience, and it’s important that you find others to share your feelings with. But posting them on Facebook is not the right venue for those feelings. Ask friends who communicate with you about your divorce to do so over the phone or in person, rather than online, where the information is available for use as evidence. Don’t attack your ex online or post insults or threats to their Facebook profile, and discourage your friends and family members from doing so. Avoid airing your dirty laundry in public, because your laundry could be waiting for you in court.
Unfriend your ex. As tempting as it can be to keep an eye on your ex’s doings via Facebook, it also opens up your feed to your ex’s inquiring eyes. You might also consider unfriending mutual friends who may favor your ex. Not that you should be paranoid about this, but you should bear in mind that anything you post may show up in your ex’s feed from another source.
For a free consultation about your legal matter, call us at (856) 227-7888, or contact us at [email protected]. We have locations in Camden, Burlington, and Gloucester counties, and are happy to discuss your options.
The above is not specific legal advice nor does it create a lawyer-client relationship. Do not rely upon it without consulting an attorney to see how the information presented fits your unique circumstances.