Social Media and Divorce; finding people, assets and lies
About a year or so ago, I wrote about the impacts of social media on divorce. As a recap, several studies revealed that Facebook was specifically and often cited within divorce petitions and responses. Not only are Facebook and other social media tools for individuals to meet new individuals and start new relationships, it’s also a place where divorce and family lawyers like myself find evidence.
Facebook posts are used as evidence of people’s behavior, motivations, statements and more. You have probably been warned about not posting pictures of yourself drinking alcohol, using drugs, out late on the weekends when you are supposed to be taking care of your kids etc. Dating sites have been used many times to contradict someone who claims to make no money, and lists themselves in to $150,000+ income bracket on match.com.
Other ways that social media is affecting your family law cases include:
1. Locating witnesses. In a recent case, we located a pivotal witness via Facebook. In this particular case, we are trying to prove that the father is abusive, controlling and dangerous. Using Facebook, we were able to locate and contact an ex-girlfriend who has never even met my client. She will now serve as a witness and help turn a he-said she-said into a slam-dunk for my client.
2. Identifying side businesses and alternative sources of revenue. With the increase in use of Facebook business pages we can locate businesses that may not be disclosed, and therefore income streams that may be used when calculating child support or assets when dividing marital property. Through a Facebook business page, we may be able to locate customers, prices and more. In one case, a wife was making thousands of dollars a month in a multi-level-marketing business. Her husband had no idea that this income stream or business existed, until we, his lawyers, discovered the Facebook business page and engaged in discovery of the business.
3. Disproving Hardship. In another current case, an ex-spouse is claiming that, despite his best efforts, his business is failing and he needs to modify his spousal maintenance and child support obligation due to his hardship. His social media profile reveals another story. Online, we found that my client’s ex had recently added a FOURTH car to his vehicle collection. He was also spending more than half of his time vacationing everywhere from Hawaii to Lake Tahoe and more. Using this information, we effectively proved there was no hardship and motioned the court for sanctions, attorneys fees and potential jail time.
The bottom line is that the use of social media in family law litigation is here to stay, evolving and both helpful and damaging depending on your position. Be careful with what you post online. Additionally, dishonestly in litigation almost never works! In my humble opinion, you are better off being honest, fair and negotiating an outcome you can live with.
For more information, or if you have specific questions for the family law attorneys of Modern Law, contact us at 480-649-2905 for a consultation.