By: Henry S. Gornbein
Every day, I think that I have heard it all throughout my work as an attorney, and then a new issue pops up regarding social media and my divorce clients. Digital communication has become such an important part of divorce proceedings that divorce attorneys now call e-mail "e" for evidence. It's important to understand the consequences of your online presence before making a massive mistake that could impact your divorce.
Impacts of Social Media on Divorce Proceedings
Here are some of my thoughts about this critical issue that impacts everyone who deals with divorce, whether as an attorney, certified divorce financial planner, mediator or therapist:
- The Internet is a major source of addiction.
- People are more dishonest online because it is easier to lie when you have anonymity.
- Many affairs begin online through Facebook and other social media sites. I have had clients reconnect with old high school sweethearts who literally move across the country in the middle of a divorce. In one case a mother abandoned her children and my client, the father, then got full custody of their three children.
- The internet is a major source for pornography. X-rated websites are everywhere.
- Online gaming can turn into an addiction. I've had cases where children dropped out of school due to a gaming addiction.
- The internet is a source for day trading and many couples have lost their life savings.
- Gambling online can also lead to addiction and is another significant factor that has resulted in numerous divorces.
- There is a lot of stalking and bullying taking place online.
- It is easy to access drugs, both prescription and illegal, online. Recently the owner of a site called the Silk Road was sentenced to life in prison for dealing narcotics through this very successful site.
- People spend thousands of dollars shopping online. Press a key and the new item is yours!
- You can be anyone you want to be online. It is easy to be deceptive. I had a client who ran off to England for another man and was in reality duped by a Nigerian scam where she lost thousands of dollars in marital funds.
Advice from a Divorce Attorney About Using Social Media
I would like to now provide some advice that I give to my clients about the dangers and pitfalls of the internet and social media:
- Do not post messages or photos on Facebook or other sites that can come back to haunt you.
- Think twice before sending intimate photos or videos at any time. They can come back to haunt you. Recently people running revenge porn sites have been sentenced to long prison terms.
- Be careful what you say in emails and texts. They can be used against you in evidence in a divorce.
- If you post at all, be discreet. Take advantage of different privacy settings that are offered.
- Monitor your children. Children’s access to computers can become a major issue. I have a case where my client’s young daughters have been exposed to pornography when left unattended by their father who left them with his girlfriend’s eleven year old daughter.
- Deleted does not mean gone. There is always a permanent record of your emails and other postings. This is where forensic experts can become so important in a divorce action.
This blog just touches the surface of these important issues. I have done webinars on this critical topic as well as lecturing on what is legal and illegal in the digital world. Please share your thoughts with me.
Contact Top Bloomfield Hills Family Law Attorneys Today
Divorce proceedings will, no doubt, continue to evolve. If you are looking for a law firm which keeps up-to-date with the evolution of divorce proceedings, look no further than the Cronin Law Firm. We will fiercely advocate for your rights while attempting to negotiate an amicable separation wherever possible. Contact us for your free consultation today.