In the recent weeks, our Birmingham divorce attorneys have had several clients embroiled in Alabama divorce cases, which seem to have been caused by social media, primarily Facebook. This popular social media website allows users to “friend” others and engage in private online communication with members of the opposite sex. The Facebook site even suggests persons for you to friend, often those that you went to school with, and maybe even dated earlier in your life. You can then interact with these people, either publicly, by posting information on their public wall, or privately by sending them personal messages for their eyes only. Mix such opportunity with an unhappy marriage, and it has turned into a temptation many just can’t resist.
A recent survey given to divorce attorneys indicated that 80% of all divorce attorneys have seen an increase in divorce cases caused by social networking sites like Facebook.
To fight this trend, many family counselors have suggested that spouse’s share Facebook accounts so that both partners can see each other’s online activity. Others suggest getting off of social media altogether.
It is current practice for our divorce attorneys to try to obtain information from the Facebook account of our client’s spouse in our divorce cases. A spouse’s computer history, texts, emails, and Facebook activity can be admitted into evidence in a divorce trial to prove their misbehavior. One court even ordered one spouse to provide their Facebook password to the other spouse to allow full discovery in their divorce action.
Even if a spouse is not caught cheating on their spouse on Facebook, it can prove useful information in painting that party in a negative light. It is likely you can find information about their drug or alcohol use, possession of firearms, propensity to party, parenting styles, and more from their Facebook posts. Such information can be useful to a judge who is trying to determine appropriate child custody, property division and alimony.
If you are going through a divorce, it is not advisable to steal your spouse’s password to search their Facebook account. However, if they leave their Facebook page open on the family computer, you may be within your right to look at its content. At a minimum, you should “friend” your spouse, and save a copy of the public content contained on their page for your divorce attorney to review for relevant information.
Our Birmingham divorce attorneys at Parkman White, LLP have experience in dealing with divorces arising from social media use, as well as other problems.