Gone are the days when one’s personal life was, well, personal. Thanks to the explosion of Facebook, Twitter, texting and other forms of social media, it is easy for folks to broadcast anything and everything about their lives — no matter how mundane — for all the world to read and see.
However, anyone going through a divorce or involved in a marriage that is clearly on its last legs is best served putting the reins on such activity. Venting about the soon to be ex should probably be limited to a conversation with a trusted confidant, preferably in person.
A recent survey of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers says that 81 percent of the nation’s top divorce attorneys state they have seen an increase in the number of cases using social networking as evidence over the last five years. Not surprisingly, Facebook, which is wildly popular across the globe, leads the way in producing divorce evidence. It was cited as the top divorce evidence source 61 percent of the time.
What this means if a man is going through a divorce, he should not post photos of him and his buddies in a club surrounded by scantily clad women with a post that says something to the effect of, “Out on the town, no wife, no kids, the way my life was meant to be.” Women, of course, also should keep the level of discretion as high as possible, no matter how bitter they are about the ex-husband in waiting.
Anyone who thinks antics that could be deemed as bawdy or showing a lack of character or self-control will not be used as evidence in the courtroom is way off base. In fact, when it comes to deciding alimony, child support and visitation rights, bank on social media activity coming up during a hearing.
“You’re finding information that you just never got in the normal discovery process — ever,” said Denver attorney Leslie Matthews recently.”People are just blabbing all over Facebook. People don’t yet quite connect what they’re saying in their divorce cases is completely different from what they’re saying in Facebook. It doesn’t even occur to them that they’d be found out.”
Former AAML president Linda Lea Viken agreed.
“(We’ve told) our clients when they come in, ‘I want to see your Facebook page,’ Viken said.’I want you to remember that the judge can read that stuff, so never write anything you don’t want the judge to hear.’
“It’s all pretty good evidence… the judges don’t really have any problems letting it in.”
Besides the social sites, bear in mind your cell phone could be the bane of your existence during divorce proceedings. The new Apple iPhone 4s has a “Find My Friends” application. A spouse is able to load you and other friends on their phone and see where you are on a map. So if you say you’re at a Ducks or an Angels game, but are instead at an address in San Clemente, home to someone who just happens to be a prominent Facebook friend, that relationship will be inspected.
All in all, anyone in the middle of a divorce should keep social media activity as vanilla as possible. Of course, avoiding it altogether until everything is done is the best way to go.