Vesta Digital Blog

How Facebook is Used as Evidence in Divorce Court

Posted on: July 1, 2010

More and more divorce lawyers are starting to use social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, Myspace, and others as legitimate evidence in divorce court. What you say online can and will be held against you in the court of law.

Facebook can be a fantastic resource for networking, business connections, and promoting your products or services, but some people are using Facebook for other motives. According to a 2008 study conducted by the Pew Internet and American Life Project, about 1 in 5 adults use Facebook for flirting.

Facebook in Divorce Court

The American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers says that 81% of its members have used evidence from social networks, 66% of which use Facebook as the source. Myspace follows at 15% and Twitter trails at 5%.

Leanna Italie, an Associated Press writer, interviewed the president-elect of The American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, Linda Lea Vilken, and uncovered some mind-blowing facts about how social networking sites can suffice as evidence in divorce court.

Some situations she has encountered include:

  • A husband joined Match.com and declared he was single and childless, while seeking primary custody of his children.
  • A husband denied anger management issues but posted on Facebook: “if you have the balls to get in my face, I’ll kick your ass into submission.”
  • A wife was fighting for custody of her kids while subpoenaed evidence surfaced from the gaming site World of Warcraft tracks her online with her boyfriend at the precise time she claimed to be out with her children. 
  • A mom denies in court that she smokes marijuana, but posted partying, marijuana-smoking photos of herself on Facebook.

The American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers says that 81% of its members have used evidence from social networks in court, 66% of which use Facebook as the main source.

Manage Your Reputation

Be aware of what you’re posting online. Regardless of your reasons for using Facebook, be prepared to have whatever information you post online used against you in any situation. Use your privacy settings. Network with discretion.

Also, search for yourself. Conduct a search to see what kind of information about you is already published on the web for the world to see. Just 3% of self-searchers report that they make a regular habit of it and 22% say they search using their name “every once in a while.” Three-quarters of self-searchers (74%) have checked up on their digital footprints only once or twice.

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