If you have been following our blog, you are familiar with the gray area surrounding the legality of surreptitiously recording conversations for obtaining evidence in divorce proceedings. In particularly contentious divorces in which parties may be fighting over assets or child support, the idea of secretly documenting a conversation may seem to be a viable option for those desiring an edge in negotiations. When problems arise regarding consent of the recording, any missteps can create issues during the proceedings.
Rather than using a cell phone to tape a conversation, however, some exes are documenting conversations where there is not an expectation of privacy: the internet. In searching for evidence on social media, former spouses are unearthing proof of hidden assets, infidelity or illicit actions. The information gathered can be used effectively in court, which is why divorce attorneys have mined this source for quite some time. According to a survey conducted by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers in 2010, 81 percent of the attorneys polled said that they noticed an increase in the number of cases in which evidence taken from social media was used.
The takeaway from this survey is that if you are engaging in divorce proceedings, avoid weakening your defense. Stay away from social media. Shut the phone down. Be mindful of what you say. Consider everything you write in an e-mail, text message or on a post to be open to the public. While you may think that you are covering your trail by deleting photos from your account or altering your privacy settings, these precautions can be ineffective. Once information is placed on the internet, it is warehoused and can be discovered. Facebook privacy settings can tricky to update. The only effect of such safeguards is that they create complacency for those documenting their lives electronically.
While it may be initially cathartic to vent online to a community of friends, such an outburst could prove harmful in court in a few months’ time.