Barbara J. Katzenberg, Attorney at Law

Facebook has a role in divorce proceedings, study says

Years ago, many states had at-fault divorce laws in which one spouse needed to prove the other was guilty of such things as abandonment or infidelity. Today, many states have no-fault divorces. Massachusetts currently provides for either a no-fault divorce (uncontested) or a fault divorce (contested). Not surprisingly, spouses are turning to Facebook to find proof of fault.

According to a recent nationwide study, nearly one-third of those who file for divorce had the word "Facebook" in their filings. Why the frequency? What are people finding on Facebook? As it turns out, a lot can be found via social media.

It may be common knowledge that there are two highly contentious issues during divorce. One of them is child custody and the other one is the division of property. Facebook postings, which are public, can either prove or disprove a spouse's claims or counterclaims.

For example:

  • A spouse claims the inability to pay child support or spousal support, and yet is seen on a tropical vacation.
  • A spouse claims fidelity and yet is tagged in sexually charged photos with a girlfriend or boyfriend.
  • A spouse claims he or she really wants to share child custody, and yet has a wall post claiming that parenting is a duty that was never wanted and not part of the current game plan.
  • A spouse claims that a motorcycle was stolen, and on Facebook brags about the price it brought on eBay.

According to a reliable source, judges are likely to consider information gained through computer bugging or electronic snooping as inadmissible in court. On the other hand, Massachusetts judges are more likely to allow Facebook revelations because Facebook is a public forum.

If you are someone considering divorce, it is a good idea to consult with an attorney and consider monitoring Facebook postings -- both your own and your spouse's.

Source: MyFox Boston, "Study: Facebook cited in one-third of divorce filings," May 21, 2012

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