Facebook Provides Crucial Evidence in Many Divorce Cases

Most people are familiar with the statistic that roughly half of all first marriages in the U.S. end in divorce, but fewer people are aware of the growing role that Facebook and other social networking websites are playing in divorce court.

According to a study conducted recently by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, more than 80 percent of divorce lawyers surveyed reported a significant increase in the use of social media evidence in divorce cases since 2006. Two-thirds of the lawyers participating in the survey named Facebook as the primary source of social media evidence used in divorce cases.

As people share more and more details of their personal lives online with ever-widening circles of online "friends," it is increasingly common for people to unwittingly undermine their divorce settlements when seemingly harmless posts fall into the wrong hands.

Although posted in good fun, a prank photograph or a sarcastic comment about your ex can easily be taken out of context and used as evidence against you in divorce court, potentially affecting your property settlement, alimony, or child custody rights. Even a completely innocent post can come back to haunt you in unexpected ways, such as when a location tag or check-in contradicts your statements about where you may have been at a particular time.

Post With Caution to Minimize the Risks

To help minimize the chances that social media will negatively affect the outcome of your divorce, a little common sense can go a long way:

  • Think twice before posting anything online and consider whether it could potentially be construed against you.
  • Keep your privacy settings as restrictive as possible, but remember that even this does not guarantee privacy; once you post something online, you have no control over what becomes of it.
  • Don't allow friends to check you into locations or tag you in posts or photos without your consent.
  • Keep your location private; don't post online from places you aren't supposed to be, since many sites include a location stamp any time you post a photo or status update.

When going through a divorce, be sure to seek help from an experienced divorce lawyer who will help you understand your options and advocate vigorously on your behalf for a fair settlement.