Divorce and The Internet: Cover Your Assets

One of the gray areas of law and technology interception is in matrimonial cases. When couples are about to get a divorce, good attorneys go, “Give me all your social media credentials.” If the case is high profile or nasty enough, I’ve seen a lot of attorneys or their technologists go through and dig up data off of Facebook, Twitter, dating sites. One bit of advice, if you’re planning to go through a divorce, before you file that action go and scrub your data. Google search yourself, go through dating sites, look for your old profiles, and look for your old user names. And you may want to remove some of the stuff that you’ve posted online.

Two of my favorite cases relate to divorce. In one particular case, the couple was in front of the judge, and the woman claimed she was a very good mother, she led a clean life, and she wanted custody of the children and a higher monthly payment. And the next day, the ex-husband’s attorney submitted in court exhibit A: her Facebook profile where she admitted to smoking marijuana. You never want to lie to a judge. And the other I remember fondly, because again a similar case where a couple were going through a very, very nasty divorce. One of the spouses claimed that they were a very good parent. They were with the kids at beach one day. And a day later, council submitted in court Facebook logs, World of Warcraft logs proving that they have lied in court. While they claim to be with the kids they’re actually out with their prospective boyfriend or girlfriend.

The biggest danger with social media and online, whether it’s Facebook or dating sites is that data never goes away. In U.S. and in the U.K., the good news is rate of divorce has not changed in the last 10 years. The same number of people are divorcing. But in the U.S. about a quarter of the divorces and in the U.K. about a third of the divorces are citing social media as the cause of divorce. One place we’d look at when we want to dig up dirt, or shore up a case is what the people have about them in social media profiles. Whether it’s LinkedIn, Facebook, or dating sites, there’s a goldmine of data that can be used to bolster or destroy a case