Social Networking’s Role in Family Law Cases
Over the past few years, the use of social media and social networking sites has exploded. From 2007 to 2009, the number of people using online social media sites has more than doubled. Facebook alone boasts over 500 million active users and the company estimates that an additional one million users will join the network each month.
A Neilson poll notes that on average, people will spend over 22 percent of their time online using social networking sites, more than twice that of any other online activity.
Evidence Used in Divorce and Child Custody Cases
Whether through Facebook, MySpace, Twitter or other social networking sites, more and more people are sharing their lives online. While these sites are a good way to keep in touch with friends and family, they also increase the risks of overexposure. These risks are becoming more prevalent in family law cases and can be especially damaging to divorcing couples. Social networking sites are, in fact, on their way to becoming standard evidence in divorce and child custody cases.
A recent survey by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers found that 81 percent of family law attorneys have noted an increase in the use of social networking sites as evidence in divorce and child custody cases over the last few years.
Facebook was the site most often used by attorneys, with over 65 percent of lawyers stating they have used Facebook photos or posts as evidence. Another survey cited in a recent CNN article notes that Facebook is mentioned in 20 percent of all divorce cases.
A Dallas father recently won custody of his 5 year-old son after monitoring his ex-wife’s Facebook account. The father found lewd pictures of his wife as well as a photo of his wife’s boyfriend holding a semi-automatic weapon. According to a KDAF-TV report, the father and his attorney compiled months worth of evidence and used it to convince a judge to order a drug test, which the mother failed. After the failed test, the judge awarded primary custody to the father.
Working With an Attorney
Cases like the one in Dallas are becoming more common around the country. Many lawyers are advising clients to review their online presence and to keep their marital troubles off of social networking sites. If you are facing any sort of family law issue, it is important to work with an experienced attorney to make sure that your interests are protected.