Shh. Big Brother is Watching!
Do you use Facebook, Twitter or other social media? If so, and you have filed for divorce in San Diego, you need to be aware that your posts, tweets and pictures may end up being entered as evidence in a court of law.San Diego divorce lawyers are seeing many more cases involving social media. In just a few short years, this technology has become so pervasive that a California divorce lawyer would be remiss for not seeing what public information is available about a client’s former spouse online. Whether as a source of information or evidence in a pending family law action, or the actual impetus for the divorce itself, social media has arrived on the scene in a big way. Consider the following:
- In March, the U.K’s Guardian reported that social networking sites are becoming a primary source of evidence in divorce proceedings. The article even blames Facebook for connecting old flames and causing marital problems.
- A survey last year by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers found that 4 of 5 lawyers had seen an increase in divorce cases involving social media evidence.
- This month’s Men’s Health features an article detailing Twitter relationships a divorcing party participates in with multiple partners.
Although the Wall Street Journal reports the notion that 1 in 5 divorces are caused by Facebook is a fallacy, there is no doubt social media is a contributing cause in a substantial number of divorces. More and more attorneys are asking to see a spouse’s Facebook page as a matter of course.
There have been sociological studies into the issue of why people behave the way they do on social networking sites. These studies reveal that people treat such social technology the way they would a close friend — and that they confide information in a very public way — information that is often best left unsaid, particularly if you are in the middle of a contentious divorce or child custody proceeding. For example:
- Posting wild and crazy pictures of you while on vacation is not a good idea. You should simply refrain from posting such pictures.
- Tweeting about job woes or problems with the kids is a bad idea. It is best to keep this information confidential.
- Posting about your alcohol or drug use (especially pictures) is a very, very bad idea. Do not do this under any circumstances.
A good rule of thumb is to not post anything to a social media site that you would want a judge to see. Otherwise, you may end up in the very uncomfortable position of explaining your posts, tweets or pictures to a judge in a court of law.
One more thing to consider is reviewing your friends as well as your privacy settings on Facebook and any other social media sites that you use. Your friends may still be talking to your ex, or to your ex’s friends, allowing your ex, and his or her attorney, full access to all of the information you share on your social media sites. An increasing body of evidence continues to suggest this is advice best followed even if you are not in the midst of a divorce.
Your attorney will warn you about social media sites. Whether you heed the warning is up to you. There are few things can torpedo your case like your own words or pictures posted on a social media site for all to see.
San Diego Family Law Attorney Nancy J. Bickford is the only certified family law specialist in San Diego who is a CPA and also holds an MBA. Don’t settle for less when determining your rights during a divorce or child custody case. Call 858-793-8884 in Del Mar, Carmel Valley, North County or San Diego.