Social Media & Divorce

Marie E. Matyjaszek

Facebook has pretty much taken over people’s lives – they “check in” and let us all know that they are shopping at Best Buy or eating at Subway, because obviously we care deeply about these intimate details.  MySpace, Twitter, Linked In and other social media have propelled our society into a “sharefest” (yes I made that word up) where we talk about our problems, ask for advice, hock our wares and otherwise blab about our day.  I won’t lie – I am guilty of it too, but of course I never check it at work.

When you’re going through a divorce or custody dispute, or any other type of legal matter, you want people to sympathize with you and tell you that you’re doing the right thing.  So naturally, you post on your Facebook wall all of the evil things your ex is doing to you, and how wrong and ignorant the judge is (the judge has to be blind to rule against you!  I mean, what was he thinking?!).  Never mind the privacy settings that Mark Zuckerberg keeps bugging you about, you’ll deal with those the next time you log in.  In the meantime, everyone should see your post so you can have maximum exposure of your righteous message!  Unfortunately for you, that maximum exposure includes your ex, your ex’s boyfriend, acquaintances, your kids, the guy at the car dealership, and – crap – your ex’s attorney.

I’ve gone through quite a bit of ink on my trusty HP printer in the last 5 years watching the glorious colors of evidence spew across the printed Facebook page.  If people are dumb enough to post something that helps my client’s case, I’m more than happy to waste a $30 cartridge for that eventual win in court.  I once had a defendant challenge a default judgment, lamenting that the marital assets were not divided fairly.  Luckily for me, he liked to show everyone how he lived, and I was able to attach to my answer a plethora of pictures from his social media site filled with bling, tricked-out cars and a high-rollin’ lifestyle that clearly contradicted his plea of poverty.
Other times the opposing party will post disparaging remarks about the Court, Friend of the Court or the soon to be ex, and some of these comments can get quite ridiculous.  Then there’s the person whose probation requirements make drinking or being in a bar a no-no, and there’s a nice picture of him with a Pabst Blue Ribbon in his hand plastered across Facebook (you’d think he’d at least spring for a Miller Lite).  Pictures and graphics of marijuana are way more common than you’d believe, as are photos of the party with his or her new romantic interest that’s been denied for months (and no, I don’t believe you kiss your friends like that.)

From what I’ve researched, it appears one out of five divorces in the United States involves using Facebook as evidence.  I absolutely agree that Facebook is by far the most common social media brought up in my cases.  Even if I never end up attaching the printout, you can bet it’s in my file waiting to be shared if need be.

Facebook and other social media are fun and allow us to connect with a lot of people we might otherwise not be able to.  Just remember that if you’re going to put the intimate details of your life out there for the world to see, don’t forget that the world’s population contains a whole boatload of attorneys.

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