A recent case demonstrates that your activities on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media websites can have a substantial impact on your divorce or family law matter.
Richmond County Supreme Court Justice, Catherine DiDomenico, held that an ex-wife’s previous temporary spousal support award of $850 a month was to be reduced to $400 a month. The Court’s original award of $850 a month for support was based on the Court’s finding that the ex-wife was unable to work due to injuries she suffered in a car accident. However, her ex-husband went back to the Court with pictures of his ex-wife belly dancing, as well as posts stating that she had been dancing every day for years. Although the ex-wife contested the pictures by stating that she wasn’t the one belly dancing and was merely standing by her friend, the Court did not buy her story. To make matters worse for the ex-wife, she also stated in Court that her doctor prescribed belly dancing as a form of physical therapy, but then her doctor denied this on the stand. The ex-wife not only received less than half of the support she was originally awarded, but the Court also ordered her to pay for her ex-husband’s attorney fees!
What is the moral of the story? Use discretion and proceed with caution if you can’t live without Facebook or Twitter. If you are uncertain about the appropriateness of a post, err on the side of caution and resist the temptation to post the questionable content. Also, if you are willing and able, divorce your Facebook and Twitter when you are planning on divorcing your spouse!
Just as the story above depicted, anything you post or upload can be used as evidence against you in a variety of matrimonial and family law proceedings. The rationale behind the admissibility of Facebook posts and the like is fairly simple. We all know that communications and pictures on these sites are posted for the entire world to see, which includes your spouse or ex-spouse, his or her lawyer, and the Courts. It should be noted that communications and pictures on social networking sites can be submitted as evidence in child custody, spousal support, and property settlement disputes that accompany divorce proceedings. Obviously pictures of you using drugs or alcohol can be used against you in a child custody proceeding. Moreover, antagonistic comments towards your spouse or ex-spouse may have relevance in a divorce proceeding. In addition, posts concerning your new job, recent purchases, and recent vacations can be used when determining spousal support and child support. Even mere statements that you post online that contradict statements that you make in court, can be used against you to demonstrate that you are not trustworthy.
If you have any questions or concerns regarding your matrimonial or family law case and social networking, contact Danziger & Mangold LLP and ask to speak to one of our attorneys.