Facebook divorce” refers to the increasing number of marital breakdowns that have occurred as a result of information found or discovered on social networking sites like Facebook.
In recent years, Canadian Courts have allowed postings on social media sites, predominantly Facebook, to be used as evidence in family law matters. Social media sites are often one of the first sources the opposing party will look to in an effort to find incriminating evidence. Anything you post on Facebook may be used against you in your family law matter.
Social media stalking skills have become invaluable to the legal world for divorce cases in particular. Online photo albums, profile pages, news feed comments, status updates and tweets have become a great source for evidence and leads. Even if content on Facebook is deleted, it can later be retrieved by forensic experts and potentially used in court as evidence in divorce proceedings.
Facebook posts are used often as evidence in custody applications and applications to vary child and spousal support. In custody applications, Facbook evidence is used to prove that one of the parents does not act in the best interest of the child or is unsuited to care for the child. Posts that refer to or pictures of high-end purchases can be used to demonstrate the ability to pay support.
The most common way to gather information on Facebook is from the couple’s mutual online friends who still have access to the spouse’s profile and posts. Many times the spouse will “de-friend” a partner but forget about their shared friends, who can access information on their profile. Another way of uncovering useful information is from searching the profiles and posts of the suspected “other man” or “other woman”.
Evidence that may be found on social networking sites, which may potentially be used against you in a “Facebook divorce” situation include;
- A friend “tags” a compromising photo of you drinking at a party or vacationing when you claim you have no time to see your children or dispute allegations of infidelity.
- Posts about your location or activities that conflict with business trips or child visitation matters.
- Posts that suggests infidelity or deception, such as a Facebook status change to “single, but looking”.
Facebook is sited as the cause for divorce in an increasing number of divorce cases because Facebook is creating online (and offline) affairs. Facebook makes it easy for old love interests to reconnect and foster relationships that challenge the foundation of the marriage and lead to divorce.
Tips for Facebook Users Facing a Divorce
- Be careful what you post on Facebook.
- Know that what you say or post may be used against you in court, and divorce lawyers use Facebook as a matter of fact when gathering evidence.
- You do not own the content on Facebook. Facebook has the right to do certain things with your content even without your knowledge.
- Ask friends and family members to refrain from posting potentially damaging information about you on their Facebook page.
- Familiarize yourself with privacy settings to ensure there is no way personal information can be accessed.
Lawyers advise users of Facebook and other social media who are headed toward a divorce or custody battle to edit their profiles, be cautious about updating statuses and double check to see who is really a “friend.”
If your support agreement includes a specific date for when child support will end – such as when the child reaches the age of majority or for as long as the child is going to school full-time – the answer to that question is straight forward: you must continue to pay child support until the date specified in your order or agreement.
If your maintenance order or agreement does not include a specific end date, however, the answer is more complicated.
You can assume that you must pay child support at least until the child reaches the age of majority, but you may have to continue paying child support for some time longer. How much longer depends on your child’s particular living situation and circumstances.
Under the Family Law Act in Ontario, child support is limited to someone under the age of 18 or over the age of 18 and in a full time program of education. Child support must be paid as long as the child remains dependent. A dependent child is any child under the age of 18 unless:
- the child has married, or
- the child is at least 16 years old and has “voluntarily withdrawn from parental control”.
A child who is 18 or older may also be considered dependent if they cannot support themselves because:
- they have a disability or illness, or
- they are going to school full-time. (This usually continues until the child turns 22 years old or gets one post-secondary degree or diploma, but a judge may order support to continue even longer.)
When the judge decides how much support should be paid for a child who is 18 or older, they take into account any earnings or income the child receives from other sources.
Child support continues even if the parent receiving it gets married or starts to live with someone else.
Separation or divorce is the result of problems between parents and not the fault of the child. But it does affect children and they may have questions about the law of separation and divorce. It is often difficult to answer questions in terms that children will understand. The Ministry of the Attorney General published a well rounded resource that explains legal terms relating to all aspects of separation and divorce and child matters in an easy to understand format.
The guide, “A Child’s Legal Guide to Separation and Divorce” contains sections covering;
- Separation and Divorce
- Parental Disagreements
- Changes in Custody and Access
- Parents’ New Partners
- Money Issues
- Getting Help
- Dictionary of Terms
Also included is a list of the books you might want to read about how most children feel when their parents separate or divorce.
Published by the Ministry of the Attorney General Source – Family Law in Ontario
If you need to get or change a child support order under the Child Support Guidelines, the court will require income information.
Child Support Guidelines are determined by a support table based on the support paying parent’s annual income and number of children entitled to support.
Departing from the support table amount is allowed in certain circumstances, shared custody costs, or in some cases of undue hardship.
Documents must be provided by the parent receiving support, only in cases where the amount of child support requested is different from the amount on the support table or in addition to the table amount.
If the request for the amount of child support is the same as the amount on the applicable Child Support Guidelines support table, without variation or any claim for contribution to special or extra-ordinary expenses, then only the parent paying child support is required to supply this information.
- A copy of your personal income tax returns filed with the Canada Revenue Agency for each of the three most recent taxation years together with all material that was filed with the returns.
- A copy of every notice of assessment and re-assessment that you have received from the Canada Revenue Agency for the three most recent taxation years.
- (For those who are an employee) The most recent statement of earnings indicating the total earnings paid in the year to date, including overtime or, where such a statement is not available, a letter from your employer setting out that information, including your rate of annual salary or remuneration.
- (For those who are self-employed) The following documents for the three most recent taxation years:
- the financial statements of your business or professional practice, other than a partnership; and
- a statement showing a breakdown of all salaries, wages, management fees or other payments or benefits paid to, or on behalf of, persons or corporations with whom you do not deal at arm’s length.
- (For those who are partners in a partnership) Confirmation of your income and draw from, and capital in, the partnership for its three most recent taxation years.
- (For those who control a corporation) The following documents for its three most recent taxation years:
- the financial statements of the corporation and its subsidiaries; and
- a statement showing a breakdown of all salaries, wages, management fees or other payments or benefits paid to, or on behalf of, persons or corporations with whom the corporation, and every related corporation, does not deal at arm’s length.
- (For those who are a beneficiary under a trust) A copy of the trust settlement agreement and copies of the trust’s three most recent financial statements.
- (For those who receive income from employment insurance, social assistance, a pension, workers compensation, disability payments or any other source) The most recent statement of income indicating the total amount of income from the applicable source during the current year or, if such a statement is not provided, a letter from the appropriate authority stating the required information.
Source: Ontario Ministry of the Attorney General
Creating a Parenting Plan
A parenting plan outlines more information and flexibility than traditional custody agreements because they are negotiated and discussed between the parents and address all aspects of child custody. Parents can incorporate as much or as little information as needed and agree to change the plan as your situation requires. A parenting plan outlines the parenting arrangements for a child including a schedule of the times each parent will spend with the child and information about who will make major decisions about education, medical care and more.
The parenting plan needs to be practical, according to each parent’s situation and in your child’s best interests. It’s important to set out ground rules about what information you will share with each other about the children and to decide how you will discuss parenting issues that come up from time to time. This includes information about education and school work, health and dental care, counselling, and who can attend school events, parent-teacher meetings and extra-curricular activities.
What to Consider When Making a Parenting Plan
- Living arrangements and parenting schedules
- Vacation, holidays and special days
- Health care
- Extra-curricular activities
- Grandparents and extended family
- Communication between parents
- Making changes to parenting plan
- Solving Problems
- Child support
Source for detailed discussion points on each topic: Department of Justice
There is an end in sight when it comes to daycare expenses. But parents don’t always agree on the age at which daycare is no longer necessary. Daycares are usually licensed to take children up to and including the year they turn 12 years old. Some parents are comfortable leaving a child alone at home as early as age 10; some prefer to have them in care until age 12. Perhaps a parent feels that it is not necessary to pay for before and after school daycare for an 11 year old, if the child is alone for only a half hour. Maybe it makes a difference if the child would be left alone before, or after, school.
Childcare then becomes not only a financial issue, but a parenting decision. If possible, include a provision in your separation agreement about when you expect payments for daycare to cease. Knowing how long each of you is prepared to contribute to childcare impacts both the child and the parent and should be part of any settlement discussions.
As in most custody and access cases, the facts are specific to your situation and decisions are best made by you, the people who know your children best. Whenever possible, try to prevent future arguments by planning ahead and negotiating child support issues, including when the childcare obligation ends, well in advance. Separation agreements should look to the future and deal with foreseeable situations comprehensively.
Daycare costs change substantially over time, particularly in the early childhood years. Depending on how young your child is, daycare will be for the full day and for the full year; once the child starts kindergarten, which is now full day in our jurisdiction, the cost will decrease to before and/or after school only. Some daycares allow part-time arrangements, but most require full-time enrollment even if the child does not attend every day. If you are sharing custody a week at a time, and only one parent requires daycare, special arrangements would have to be made if possible.
For the summer, daycare attendance will likely increase to full day again, depending on the parents’ work schedules. Even if you have vacation time and plan to be home with the children, the daycare may require you to pay either a portion or the full amount of the daycare cost for the summer to keep the spot. If you choose to put the child in camps, instead of daycare, this expense would likely be considered a childcare expense to be shared.
If, however, you choose to put your child in a camp during your week or two of extended access, rather than staying home with him or her, the cost of camp would likely be only your responsibility. If you either share the summer or each have a dedicated week or two of ‘vacation’ access, the presumption is that you will spend it with your child and have no need for daycare. It may be your choice to have the child attend camp during the day in any event — don’t assume that the other parent will share the expense in that case. Talk about it and try to agree ahead of time on how you plan to handle holiday childcare costs so that you both have a full understanding of the child support obligations.