Step Away From the Computer – Why Divorce and the Internet Don't Mix
By Kluger, Kaplan, Silverman, Katzen & Levine, P.L. September 18, 2012
By Jason R. Marks
It is not new advice that content posted on Facebook, Twitter and other online forums is open to the whole world to see. Nor is it a secret that such public postings are discoverable. For example at the end of last month, a Manhattan judge ordered Twitter to release the private tweets of an Occupy Wall Street protester in an ongoing criminal investigation, highlighting a new trend – courts are reluctant to recognize privacy rights when an individual posts his or her thoughts in a public forum.
Most of us have friends who feel it necessary to publicize every detail of their personal lives on Facebook – including taking jabs at their soon-to-be-ex spouses. But can taking a pop shot at your ex-to-be negatively impact the outcome of your divorce?
Just like an employer can check out your online identity before making you a job offer, you can be sure that your embittered spouse, and certainly his or her lawyer, will visit your Facebook and Twitter pages and dig up any juicy information you have decided to share with the world.
Your husband is a man whore? Call up a friend and discuss it over coffee. Your wife is a bad mother? Hash it out over happy hour. But think twice before bashing your spouse on the internet. Even “private” posts that are limited to your “friends” may be discoverable in litigation and can be used against you.
Likewise, think twice about posting pictures of yourself engaging in questionable behavior. In a custody dispute, photos of you drinking, doing drugs and engaging in sexual contact can all be used against you in court to question your fitness as a parent.
My policy is simple. Ask yourself “would I let my grandmother see this?” If your answer is not a quick “yes,” don’t post. Err on the side of caution. No one has ever said “I really wish I had put up that picture of myself on Facebook” but plenty of people have lived to regret it.