Posted Feb 12, 2010 12:58 pm CST
We heard this week from one lawyer who tells his criminal defense clients right off the bat to nix their Facebook accounts. Maybe divorce lawyers ought to consider similar warnings.
In a new survey of divorce lawyers, 81 percent say they have seen an increase in the use of social networking evidence during the past five years. The survey, conducted by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, pinpoints Facebook as the “unrivaled leader for online divorce evidence” with 66 percent citing it as a primary source, according to a news release about the survey.
AAML Vice President Ken Altshuler, a Portland, Maine, divorce lawyer, already tells clients to terminate social networking pages immediately.
“Every client I’ve seen in the last six months had a Facebook page,” Altshuler told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Altshuler shared anecdotes with the AJC, including a case in which a woman was seeking custody in a divorce from her alcoholic husband. The husband had told the judge he had reformed, but Altshuler found a recent photo of the man “holding a beer in each hand with a joint in his mouth.”
AAML President Marlene Eskind Moses, who practices family law in Nashville, Tenn., said in the release that there’s already heightened levels of personal scrutiny during divorce proceedings.
“If you publicly post any contradictions to previously made statements and promises, an estranged spouse will certainly be one of the first people to notice and make use of that evidence,” she said. “As everyone continues to share more and more aspects of their lives on social networking sites, they leave themselves open to much greater examinations of both their public and private lives in these sensitive situations.”
While Facebook has proven to be the evidence leader, the survey notes that 15 percent of lawyers say they’ve found evidence on MySpace and five percent from Twitter.