“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.”