Minnesota Lawyer recently featured an article by Sylvia Hseih entitled Divorce Attorneys are Missing Evidence on Social Media Sites. She reports that sites such as Facebook and Twitter contain a “treasure trove” of legal evidence- especially in divorce cases. She writes, however, that most lawyers are missing the boat.
Hseih points out that damaging messages and compelling photos can quickly lead a case to settlement if discovered and presented early.
Citing the “adultery discovery,” Hseih suggests that a suspicious spouse may be armed with damaging information to bring in to court. Keep in mind, however, that Minnesota is a no-fault divorce state. Whether you or your spouse are faithful to one another isn’t relevant under our divorce statutes (Hseih’s article first appeared in a national publication).
There are other highly relevant uses for this information, however. Here are a few examples referenced by Hseih:
- Confessions involving an individuals social life;
- Photos with children in places they ought not be;
- Photos of parties to the case consuming liquor or using drugs;
- Income and employment information; or
- Inappropriate sexual content
Hseih recommends looking both ways, urging lawyers to speak with their clients about the types of social networks they post on, limiting the information they provide and increasing access security to prevent their spouse from tapping in.
I encourage anyone going through a divorce to modify all of their passwords to prevent a spouse from creating a false profile or modifying information on the social sites in an attempt to cast you in a negative light. It wasn’t that long ago that a client pulled up her MySpace page to find that she was already “single” and a “swinger.” Of course, her husband denied making those changes and tried to hold it against her in court. Wasn’t successful, but I guess he deserves an “A” for creativity – not to mention fabricating evidence.