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Social media postings can be used against you in family law matters

Discovery News reports that more than a billion people actively use Facebook every month. Twitter is used by over 550 million people monthly. Utilizing social media as a platform to express ourselves is now ingrained in our culture. Unfortunately, many of us are prone to over-sharing. New York's former governor Eliot Spitzer (a/k/a/ "Carlos Danger"), golf pro Tiger Woods and NFL quarterback Brett Favre are among those who have overshared via texts and photo postings. A psychologist interviewed by Discovery News urged people to be extremely careful about what they post on Facebook and Twitter. He advised that if you have any concern about "something coming back to haunt you," simply hold that thought and refrain from posting.

The Huffington Post recently published an article advising that if you are in the process of obtaining a divorce, you might want to consider deactivating all of your social media networking sites. Removing the temptation to make an ill-advised post may be viewed by many as unnecessary overkill. However, keep in mind that ill thought out social postings could, in a contentious divorce, come back to haunt you. For example, social media web sites could show you involved in activities that might reflect negatively on your character. If you happened to be involved in a child custody dispute, think about the consequences of a posted photo showing you being a gleeful participant in what appears to be a very wild party.

Unforeseen consequences

A report in the Buffalo Law Journal observes that the legal community in New York believes that social media postings have often caused "unforeseen consequences" in divorce proceedings and child custody matters. One person who was interviewed for the report found that it was absolutely incredible how people expose their lives on social media such as Facebook, Twitter, blogs, Myspace and Instagram. One interesting point that was made is that it is not just young New Yorkers who are having trouble being cautious about the nature of their social network postings. People in their 50s and 60s are heavy users of Facebook, and it has become so ingrained in their lives that posting is part of their daily routine. The attorneys interviewed by the Buffalo Law Journal were of the opinion that the New York courts have taken a somewhat liberal stance when it comes to making social media evidence admissible in court proceedings.

Increasingly, social media evidence is making its way into the courtroom. For example, in a 2010 New York case, Romano v. Steelcase, Myspace and Facebook postings were admitted into evidence. B.M. v. D.M. was a 2011 New York divorce proceeding. There, the court allowed into evidence postings from a wife's blog and Facebook page concerning her belly dancing activities. The best advice is that if you are about to be involved in litigation-particularly divorce and child custody proceedings-consider steering clear of social networking sites. At the very least, think twice before hitting the send button.

Seeking advice

If you have reached the decision to seek a divorce, you need to contact an attorney experienced in handling family law matters as soon as possible. The attorney will be glad to address your concerns and answer all your questions. Importantly, the attorney will explain the process of getting a divorce in New York and go over with you how the law deals with property distribution and child custody issues. Finally, the attorney can also advise you on precautions you can take in an effort to avoid making the divorce contentious.

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