According to Georgia's The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Facebook and other social networking sites have become more than leisurely pastimes. As it turns out, those status updates everyone is constantly sharing with their friends and family could come back to haunt them during a divorce or custody dispute.
Since these networking sites have grown in popularity, especially among the younger generation, warnings have always focused on protecting young children from the dangers of the Internet and making their information so available in a public forum. Now, warnings must go further to include adults' use of social networking.
Warning: The information shared on Facebook, MySpace and Twitter is subject to more than the enjoyment of friends and can be used to count against you in a family court of law.
According to sources, 81% of a group of divorce attorneys recently surveyed report an increase in information posted on social networking sites being used as evidence in divorce cases. Sixty percent of those attorneys finger Facebook as the most incriminating culprit in most ot those cases.
One attorney's advice for people involved in either a divorce or child custody dispute is for them to cancel their social networking accounts.
The suggestion does not come from the idea that parties are actually participating in severely inappropriate or illegal behavior that should be hidden from the law. Rather, the concern is that during family law disputes, it is not uncommon for parties to dig deep for any bit of evidence that makes the other party look bad and viciously use that data to their advantage.
One wild photo or unedited status post on a social networking page can be used to paint an incriminating picture of a parent or spouse. Even if it is one picture or one quote from a stockpile of 500 innocent posts, its very existence in such a public forum makes too easy and vulnerable of a target in family court.
Lies are also easily identified due to social networking sites. People say what they know the court wants to hear when it comes to getting what they want out of a divorce or a child custody dispute. Sources say, however, that any savvy family law attorney (or spouse/parent) now knows to check sites such as Facebook and MySpace in order to try to disprove anything said in court.
The Internet, especially when used in the privacy of one's home, provides users with a feeling of anonymity and protected privacy. Giving into that risky naivete could mean the difference between getting what you want out of a divorce or custody case and coming up devastatingly short.