CNN recently ran an article titled “Divorce attorneys catching cheaters on Facebook”, in which it featured several attorneys across the nation who have used information posted on Facebook to discredit a party and win their case. In one divorce case, the wife claimed her alcoholic husband was drinking again, but the husband denied it. Then a mutual friend of the couple found Facebook photos of the husband drinking beer at a party a few weeks earlier. The wife’s attorney presented the photos in Court, and the wife won the case. In another case, after the wife had been blocked from her husband’s Facebook page, she found the profile page of another woman with whom she suspected her husband having an affair. On that woman’s profile page, a public album of photos taken on a romantic getaway with her husband appeared.
A recent survey by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers found that 81 % of divorce attorneys have seen an increase in the number of cases using social networking evidence during the past five years. More than 66% of those attorneys said the No. 1 site most often sued as evidence is Facebook with its 400 million registered users.
Another recent survey by Divorce-Online.com of more than 5,000 attorneys says Facebook is mentioned in about 20% of divorce cases.
Although in my practice here at BoltNagi, PC, I haven’t had the opportunity to present any online social networking evidence to the Court, I have had clients present me with evidence which they have found online pertaining to the adverse party, including evidence found on Facebook and MySpace. And I anticipate that as more and more people continue to use online social networking, that we will see an increase in the use of online social networking evidence here in the Virgin Islands. My advice? Anyone going through a divorce or custody battle should be extremely cautious about information posted online, should double check who their “friends” are, and should know how to configure privacy settings so that there is no way personal information can be accessed. Better yet… get off Facebook completely.