How to Use Facebook to Advance Your Child Custody Case
With the explosion of social media in the past decade, electronic discovery plays an increasingly important role in child custody and family law cases. This guide provides some basic tips on how you may use Facebook to advance your child custody case.
Pre-Filing InvestigationIf you believe a child custody case is on the horizon it is advisable to preserve all potentially adverse information contained on Facebook regarding your opponent. Consider using services such as PageFreezer or iCyte to take snapshots of your future opponents Facebook pages and other social media accounts. This will protect you in the event that they decide to delete damaging electronic evidence in the future.
Pre-Filing Scrub of Your Own ProfileOnce you request your opponent's Facebook profile through discovery during your case, you can rest assured that they will do the same. Accordingly, if you believe that litigation may be in your future you should delete potentially damaging information contained on your social media profiles. Once formal litigation commences you are not afforded this luxury, as there are rules against destroying evidence.
Post-Filing Discovery of FacebookDon't waste your time attempting to subpoena an opponent's Facebook profile. You'll have better luck squeezing blood out of a turnip than getting Facebook to provide anything as it relates to your subpoena. Facebook will only honor subpoena's that are domesticated in its home state of California. Then you must pay them a subpoena processing fee of $500.00 per user account. After all of this, they still may hide behind the Stored Communications Act and refuse to comply with the subpoena. As such, you are far better served simply using standard discovery requests to obtain an opponent's Facebook profile information. All Facebook profiles contain a "Download Your Information" link, enabling users to download their entire profile to a zip file. This zip file may be requested through a standard request for production of documents.
Sample Request for Production of Facebook ProfileFor each Facebook account monitored by you, please produce your account data from the date of its inception to present. You may download and print your Facebook data by logging onto your Facebook account, selecting "Account Settings" under the "Account" tab on your homepage, clicking on the "learn more" link besides the "Download Your Information" tab, and following the directions on the "Download Your Information" page.