Understanding The Role Of Technology And Social Media In Divorce In CA
Digital social media applications have an undeniable impact ion modern divorce. Public self-disclosure on social media opens divorcing partners to scrutiny.
Many people who are going through a divorce in Orange County, California, do not realize how much of a role technology and social media can play in setting the final terms. Today, anything from a breach of prenuptial agreement to a lack of financial disclosure can be proven or at least uncovered thanks to texts, emails and social media postings. It is important for Californians who are in the process of divorcing to be extremely careful of what they share with the world.
Social media activities are increasingly impactful
Most people already realize that social media can play a role in divorce. NY Daily News reported in 2012 that, globally, Facebook activity is becoming more commonly cited in divorce petitions, as spousal postings reveal too much or are perceived as inappropriate. Now, however, social media is also being used not just as one of the grounds for divorce, but also as evidence in divorce proceedings.
Forbes reports that social media activity can lead to suspicion over a spouse's activities and assets. Photographs or posts about a job prospect, a trip or a new vehicle can all indicate that one party has not been completely honest with the court about assets and income sources. Anyone who is going through a divorce can benefit from limiting activity — and even investigating their spouse's activity — on all of the following:
- Dating websites
Although people tend to believe that posts on these websites are private and can be removed, other people may have viewed the posts and even captured a screen shot of them. Some websites also maintain archives of older postings.
Even people who consider themselves social media-savvy can still give away too much through other modes of communication, such as text and email.
Digital communications aren't always private
The same Forbes article cautions people to be careful about what they text or email others, as this material could be subpoenaed and used in a civil case like a divorce. To ensure that something stays private, people should discuss it in person. People may feel reassured because some companies don't keep extensive records, but soon it may be possible for texts and emails to be recovered elsewhere.
NBC describes a 2013 criminal case where a man accused of murder tried to obtain cell phone records to prove his location during the crime. His cell phone provider had erased the records, so the man's lawyer requested National Security Agency data. NSA prosecutors reported that they do not track location data. The NBC article speculated, however, that lawyers in both criminal and civil cases could start petitioning the NSA for the data that it does collect.
It's important for anyone who uses social media or digital means of communication to understand the inherent privacy limitations. People who are divorcing should especially be cautious about what they reveal through these channels.
People who are preparing for a divorce should speak with a lawyer to understand both their legal obligations and their options for reaching a settlement.
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