Divorce tends to bring out the worst in people. And today, your “worst” behavior may very well become public knowledge via the wonders of the Internet Age.
Modern technology delivers the power to connect to an unlimited number of people, resources and opportunities. But as a frequently quoted super hero once proclaimed, “With great power comes great responsibility.” As Internet users, we are responsible for taking appropriate precautions to protect our private information from the eyes of the world.
That responsibility is particularly important when you are involved in divorce proceedings. With emotions running wild, your soon-to-be ex-spouse will be on the look-out for any opportunity to point out your weaknesses to the court. The opportunity they seek often comes by way of social media.
A Florida attorney recently stated the following with regard to Facebook:
“You can get a little bit of everything that happens on Facebook. Everything from clients coming in with pictures of the opposing party doing a keg stand with high schoolers… to teenagers drinking alcohol served by a parent….to a picture of a husband at a nightclub dancing with a babysitter.”1
Courts generally admit such evidence. In fact, Facebook pages are reportedly cited in one out of five divorce cases in the United States.2
Similarly, as Internet relationships become increasingly common, information from dating sites and chatrooms are becoming fair game for divorce attorneys. In Ohio, a husband used key-stroke and screen-shot monitoring devices to spy on his wife’s e-mail and instant messages. The judge admitted the evidence at trial, finding that there was no law requiring the suppression of illegally intercepted electronic communications.3
While I do not condone extra-marital affairs, excessive drinking or other reckless behavior, I would advise you to take the necessary precautions to ensure that what you intend to be private remains private.
1 Janie Porter, Facebook used in 90 percent of divorce cases, WTSP 10 News, 1 May 2011, available at http://saintpetersburg.wtsp.com/news/news/facebook-used-90-percent-divorce-cases/56929.
3. Declan McCullagh, Wife e-surveilled in divorce case, CNET News, 1 March 2007, available at http://saintpetersburg.wtsp.com/news/news/facebook-used-90-percent-divorce-cases/56929