According to a survey by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (AAML) 80 percent of the attorneys surveyed said that they have seen an increase in the number of cases involving evidence gleaned from social media. Social media websites such as Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, Flickr, Photobucket and others can be gold mines of information when spouses battle in alimony and child-support cases.
Private investigators digging for dirt on a client’s wayward spouse or ex-spouse know that the websites are often a roadmap to catch people doing things they don’t want kept secret. Divorce and family law firms are increasing their reliance on information gathered from social media sites too.
In the old days, attorneys and private investigators barged in on a spouse in a compromising moment in hopes of getting a photograph that could be used to nail the person on adultery. Today all they need to do is go online to find evidence on profile pages, wall comments, status updates, and photo files. Compromising photos and other information are usually not what the opposing parent wants to portray before a judge, and the evidence can definitely affect alimony disputes and custody fights. A parent could easily lose custody, alimony, or both, due to inappropriate behavior exhibited online.
The most incriminating online evidence seems to be photographs, as they are often well worth the proverbial “thousand words” when presented in court. Some attorneys use photos as leverage in negotiations more than as than in evidence in court, but the result is usually the same – compromising one spouse’s position.
Social media gives divorce lawyers access to information that reveals a person’s state of mind, or proves communication happened, or gives evidence of actions.
In 2008, the Pew Study of Internet and American Life found that one in five adults questioned said they used online social networks to flirt with their connections, and the numbers have likely increased since then.