Facebook Evidence in Divorce: Five Tips for Protecting Yourself

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Facebook-Marriage-Divorce-CourtMany solicitors and barristers who frequently attend the Australian Family Law Court buildings while representing their clients have been witnessing a silent but significant change in the type of evidence often relied upon by parties in family law disputes.

This significance is not only represented in terms of volume, but in the indisputable nature of this evidence.

Emails, SMS text messages and the ubiquitous Facebook have taken over the domain previously occupied by witness statements, paper based correspondence and he-said, she-said accounts. Unlike the latter, this new type of evidence is almost impossible to dispute, especially when it contains threats, boasts or other literal transgressions that are not open to favourable or alternative interpretation.

Facebook in particular, given its poorly understood security features and the frequent public availability of what are often intended to be private, or limited publications, lends itself exceptionally well to the world of counter-argument and conclusive proof.

A 2010 survey conducted by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (AAML) concluded that 81 percent of divorce lawyers had seen a huge increase in the use of social media as evidence — with Facebook topping the charts at 66 percent.

In the more than two years since the disquieting AAML survey, Facebook has grown to 955 million monthly active users. Chances are your spouse and the friends and family of your spouse use Facebook. Following are five tips for Facebook use during your divorce.

1. Consider everything you post to be public

Consider everything you post on Facebook as public information. With one click of a button, your photos and comments can spread exponentially until it falls into your spouse’s hands and then into the court file. In addition, a court has the authority to order you to release deleted and private postings to your spouse.

2. Do not post your party photos

Flirting with new friends and enjoying a few drinks may be harmless activities as you transition into your single life, but photographic evidence of your partying can be damaging. Even innocent photos can be misconstrued and used against you by your spouse.

3. Vent to your friends, not your Facebook page

Although your spouse may really have cheated on you or behaved badly in other ways, Facebook is not the appropriate forum to vent your frustrations. Your angry tirades — no matter how justified — can be twisted to your spouse’s advantage.

4. Resist boasting

Along with divorce comes the freedom to buy and do what you want without asking your spouse’s permission. However, your purchase of a new boat, car or vacation home may diminish your argument that you cannot afford to pay financial support or that you need your spouse to pay you alimony.

5. Update your privacy settings

Facebook allows you to control how much information you share with the public. However, although updating your Facebook privacy settings can protect you, the adjustment does not guarantee your spouse will not get hold of your postings.

Stay Informed. It’s simple, free & convenient!


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Categories: Child Custody Dispute, Facebook
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