Cheating Spouses on Facebook Are Not Unique to Hollywood
As a Michigan family law attorney, Wendy Alton has seen Facebook activity used increasingly in courts.
It was recently announced that San Antonio Spurs star Tony Parker – currently divorcing from Desperate Housewife Eva Longoria – had a fling with a woman that he kept in touch with on Facebook.
This is not a celebrity-only phenomenon.
In my own experience as a Michigan divorce lawyer, I have not only used Facebook evidence in divorce and custody proceedings, but my opposing attorney has used the same against my own clients.
Whether you realize it or not, Facebook can be used to prove extra-marital relationships. It can be used to show alcohol use. Every disparaging comment said about your soon-to-be-ex-spouse can be printed, saved and presented in court to show that public derogatory comments are being made about the other spouse. And yes, that can also be considered by the court in a custody dispute.
Research conducted this summer showed that divorce attorneys are becoming more and more fluent in social networking sites—Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, YouTube and Twitter to name a few. Lawyers are using these sites to find out information about the other spouse during a divorce. There have been dozens of stories over the last year discussing how things a spouse posted online – whether a picture, wall post, or status update – were used against that spouse in a divorce or custody proceeding.
Social media infidelity has become so prevalent, that there is now a website devoted solely to Facebook cheating: www.facebookcheating.com. On the site, you can read articles to help you discover if your spouse is cheating, read stories of others who have experienced infidelity due to Facebook and learn what to do with your Facebook page if you are going through a divorce.
So what exactly can be used against you from your Facebook page?
Everything. Everything you say, every picture you post and every friend you have. Facebook comments, wall posts, status updates, friends, pictures and videos are admissible in Court for issues such as fault, custody, parenting time, child support and even property division.
It is absolutely essential to guard what you do online on Facebook if you are going through a divorce. The safest solution is to deactivate your Facebook page. This will take your page offline until you next sign in. You will not lose your friends, your posts or pictures—it will just take your page out of general public view. Once your divorce is final, then you can activate once again.
Some say that you should just adjust your privacy settings. However, remember that your friends will see everything you post—and during a divorce, sometimes your friends are not necessarily on your side. On the other hand, keeping your Facebook page allows you to see what your spouse may be doing, if they are on Facebook. After all, it is the war of the roses, right?
The information provided in this column is not legal advice. The information provided on this public website is provided solely for the general interest of the visitors to this website. The nformation contained in the column applies to general principles of law and may not reflect current legal developments or statutory changes in the various jurisdictions and therefore should not be relied upon or interpreted as legal advice. Reading the information contained in this column does not mean that you have established an attorney-client relationship with attorney Wendy Alton or the law firm of Fausone Bohn. Readers of this column should not act upon any information contained in the website without first seeking the advice of legal counsel.