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Divorce and technology, part two: Facebook and divorce

In the last blog post, we discussed the effect of online coparenting tools on divorcing and divorced couples. This post will examine the use of Facebook in divorce proceedings.

It is no surprise that many marriages end by Facebook. An affair is discovered, or one spouse badmouths the other in "public." Facebook recently made news when it recommended that a woman befriend someone that turned out to be her husband's second wife. Yet, Facebook's impact on divorce doesn't stop once the divorce papers are filed. Facebook and other social media outlets are prime places to find evidence during the divorce.

Maryland divorce lawyers and attorneys throughout the country are telling their clients to shut down their Facebook accounts during divorce proceedings, or at least boost privacy settings.

Why?

First: Your credibility

Imagine your spouse tells the judge that he or she doesn't drink, but there are pictures of your spouse drinking on Facebook. If the pictures comes into evidence, the judge has proof that your spouse lied to the judge. This evidence is enough to tarnish your spouse's entire testimony. Now, imagine if this was you, and you told the judge a "white lie." The negative impact would be the same.

Second: Facebook's impact on child custody determinations

You love your children. You want to spend as much time with them as possible. Maybe you even want full custody. Social media could work to your advantage or disadvantage.

In one child-custody-meets-the-Internet case, a father was able to prove that his wife spent time on World of Warcraft when she was supposed to be at an event with their kids. More evidence that she wasn't spending time with the children put them into the father's care.

Facebook evidence could also prove that you do not have a home that is in the children's best interests. Photos and status updates involving alcohol, drugs, a disorderly home and other issues can cost you dearly.

Finally: Your friends

Facebook connects you with a network of people "on your side." Yet, talking about your divorce on Facebook while you are going through your divorce can be dangerous, especially if you have mutual friends with your ex. Facebook is not the place to share your feelings during this intense emotional time.

Source: NPR, "Facebook 'friend' offer exposes man's other wife," Associated Press, Mar. 10, 2012.

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