October 23, 2012

Beware: Online activity can hurt you in divorce

Facebook, Twitter and similar websites have become omnipresent in the lives of many people across the country, but experts warn that some Internet activity could jeopardize the results of your divorce. Michigan and most other states lack laws explicitly addressing the use of online posts in divorce cases. As a result, many family courts have begun to allow Facebook posts, tweets and other similar data to be discovered as evidence during divorce proceedings.

For individuals who have become accustomed to sharing details of their lives with their Facebook friends and members of other online communities, posts that bad-mouth a spouse or photos that publicize a relationship with a new partner can have devastating consequences in a divorce trial. Even “private” Facebook posts can be accessed easily by your ex-spouse and his or her attorney, making it crucial to avoid sharing information that could be used against you in court.

For example, an ex-spouse could argue that an obscene comment shows you to be verbally abusive, or that pictures of you partying and drinking alcohol suggest that you are an unfit parent. Even a post you later delete can be recovered to be used in court, as can a seemingly innocent comment. The impressions offered by the posts could affect awards regarding spousal support or child custody and support.

As such, experts recommend that individuals undergoing a divorce avoid discussing their case online in any form. Those who feel the need to vent about their soon-to-be-ex-spouses should instead call a friend or talk about their concerns in person in order to protect themselves from self-incrimination.

By employing a qualified divorce attorney, Michigan residents can ensure that they avoid the damaging consequences of posting about their divorce online. In addition to handling complex legal matters, an attorney can provide advice on how to protect your interests from being jeopardized and ensure that your divorce ends as positively as possible.

Source: The Huffington Post, “Step Away From the Computer: Why Divorce And The Internet Don’t Mix,” Jason Marks, Oct. 15, 2012