Written by attorney Carmelina Marin

How social media can be used in your divorce

It is not just in causing divorce that social media has had an impact, but also during a divorce case itself. Facebook posts and emails have been used as evidence in the family law courts. Social media has also been used as a tool to determine people's behavior. An example of this are situations where parents have lost custody of their children because of evidence gathered from social media. Facebook and other social networking sites could sabotage your divorce settlement negotiations if you're not careful? According to a recent study by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (AAML), over 80 percent of divorce attorneys acknowledge that the amount of cases utilizing social networking evidence have increased significantly since 2006. How: Seemingly innocent party photos, check-in, or instagram photos, and status updates can jeopardize a person's divorce settlement, resulting in the loss of child custody, parenting time or even alimony. Why: The divorce process is time when a person’s emotions can rage from saddness, anger, resentment, jealously, relieved; it’s a time of mixed emotions. Social media can quicly and instantaneously be a avenue to express your feelings and/or provide evidence that can harm one or both parties, both during and after a divorce settlement. Recently, The Marin Law Firm, P.A., had a case where a video was posted on facebook that showed the father was urging his 4 year to tease a pit bull puppy by kicking and punching the puppy. The pit bull snipped and barked at the toddler. In the very end of the video the toddler was telling his father he did not want to kick the puppy and that is when the puppy grabbed hold of the toddler’s leg. The puppy did eventually let go of the toddler and he was not harmed. With that video and a call to DCF, the father, who wanted 50/50 time-sharing was given alternating weekends and the child could not have contact with animals while with the father. Another case, that involved solely the spouses was when one spouse had several pictures of his soon to be ex-wife vacationing on cruise ships, Las Vegas, and Miami. The Husband was able to use the postings on her Facebook, Instagram, and Linkedin accounts, which were not in themselves provocative or offensive in any manner, to show that the children spent a majority of the time wuth grandmother than with the mother. This doesn't mean you should delete your Facebook, Instagram, and Llinkedin accounts or give up social media altogether, but rather to be mindful of what you're posting and saying online. I advise my clients to follow these instructions in order to avoid sabotaging their pending, or existing divorce settlement. 1. Think…., Wait….., Think Again…., then post. If you don’t want your spouse, or your spouse’s attorney, to see it, then don’t post it. When going through a divorce or any family litigation, be careful of the photos and information you are sharing. It is better to be overly cautious about your posts on Facebook, Instagram, and Llinkedin. 2. Keep Them Separated (as the song goes) Even if you have “blocked" a person from Facebook, so they can not see your posts. Even if you're on friendly terms with your ex, or soon-to-be-ex, it's a good idea to keep your social networking circles as separate as possible. You never know when the emotional tides may turn and readily incriminating evidence found online can be used against you. Social media is a lot of fun, but make no mistake about it: everything you post on Facebook, Instagram, Youtube, Twitter, and similar sites should be considered public. If there is information you’d rather your spouse didn’t have access to, for instance: Your trip to Las Vegas with your new girlfriend and you have told your soon to be ex-wife you can’t have the kids on the weekend due to work ---then do not post about your trip, because if you have ANY mutual friends or acquaintances she will find out. 3. Don't reveal your location

GPS can be your worst enemy

Many social sites can and will reveal your location when you upload images and status updates and turn off the GPS function on your phone, too). If you're not where you're "supposed to be," it's a good idea to skip the uploading process until you get home so as not to instigate an argument from an ex, or soon-to-be ex-spouse. 4. Don’t comment about your Spouse Don’t make disparaging comments about your spouse on your page or anyone else’s. Don’t lie about your marital status on dating sites. In short, keep your online presence completely innocuous, or your own words could come back to haunt you. 5. Children Social Media Accounts Please keep a close eye on your children’s postings on social media. Insist that your children “friend" you (and check their status updates regularly), and require them to use a computer in a common area—one for which you control password access. What you do not want is to find out that your children have been posting about there harmless teenage activities through litigation. In a case I had a few years back when Myspace was the rage, opposing counsel called me to tell me that the minor child, a sixteen year old boy had gotten a small tattoo of his girlfriends name, Amy. The young man had posted his pledge of young love to Amy on his Myspace account. BE WARNED NOTHING IS PRIVATE ONCE YOU PLACE IT ON THE WORLD WIDE WEB. THINK BEFORE YOU POST. If you would like to discuss your divorce with attorney Carmelina Marin please contact me via my webpage

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