Thursday, March 4, 2010

Facebook, MySpace and Twitter Evidence in Custody Battles and Divorce

In this new age of technology, watch what you put on the web. Did you friend your soon-to-be ex wife's aunt and forget about it because she never posts? If so, then you can be guaranteed she will be gleefully printing pictures and posts on your page and handing them to her attorney for evidence against you. Did you playfully suggest on Facebook that you want to "leave the kids at home and get smashed tonight?" Then, be prepared for it to turn up as Exhibit A at your trial.

Edwards & Associates recently won custody for a father at trial. Included as primary exhibits were her Facebook and Myspace pages. Of particular interest were several scantily clad pictures of the young mother of 4, and posting of her announcing that she "goes to the club too much" and that she "was drinking IN THE CAR on the way to the club." She turned bright red and said that was her personal business. The Court did not agree and stripped her of custody and ordered her to pay child support. Here is a great recent article printed in the AJC.

Facebook a treasure trove for divorce lawyers

By Larry Hartstein

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
9:55 a.m. Thursday, February 11, 2010

As if divorce lawyers needed more ammunition.

In a new survey, 81 percent say they've seen an increase in the use of Facebook and other social networking sites for evidence in divorce cases. Notes to lovers, compromising photos -- Facebook provides a wealth of incriminating information.

"Every client I've seen in the last six months had a Facebook page," said Ken Altshuler, a longtime divorce lawyer from Portland, Maine, who is first vice president of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers. "And the first piece of advice I give them is to terminate their page immediately."

Sixty-six percent of the attorneys surveyed by the AAML called Facebook the unrivaled leader for online divorce evidence, followed by MySpace (15 percent) and Twitter (5 percent).

"Going through a divorce always results in heightened levels of personal scrutiny," said Marlene Eskind Moses of Nashville, the group's president. "If you publicly post any contradictions to previously made statements and promises, an estranged spouse will certainly be one of the first people to notice and make use of that evidence."

Altshuler cited a couple cases in which Facebook proved key:

A woman was getting divorced from her alcoholic husband and seeking custody of their kids. The husband told the judge he had found God and hadn't had a drink in months, but Altshuler found a recent Facebook photo showing him "holding a beer in each hand with a joint in his mouth," the lawyer said.

Then there was the custody case in which his client's ex-wife claimed to be engaged. She was trying to show she'd provide a stable household for the kids.

But the same woman had posted on Facebook that she'd broken up with her abusive boyfriend and "if anybody had a rich friend to let her know," Altshuler said.

The ex-husband's friend gave him the posting; he was still Facebook friends with the ex-wife.

"People don't think about who has access to their Facebook page," Altshuler said. "A good attorney can have a field day with this information."

No comments: