Online Social Networking Pages Play Increasing Role in Court


Family law attorneys in Pasadena increasingly see information garnered from online social networking sites used as evidence in court. Social networking sites help people connect, but they also have a way of making people's lives a matter of semi-public record like never before.

For example, let's say a husband buys a new girlfriend an expensive gift and announces the purchase on Twitter. In court, he may be found to be dispersing marital assets to a third party. Or a wife may try to prove to the court that she is not capable of getting a job, but she may be found pursuing job interviews on LinkedIn, calling her truthfulness into question.

Divorce lawyers are always looking for evidence that might prove advantageous to their clients' cases, and these days, sites like LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook are providing just such an advantage. One lawyer advises clients to screen their social networking pages for anything that could be incriminating while, at the same time, he studies the ex's pages with a fine-toothed comb. Another lawyer notes that it has become routine to review a client's web presence - along with that of the ex.

In another example, a mother assured the court that she hadn't been drinking, but one of her social networking pages showed dated photos of her drinking and smoking. This was used in court to cast doubt on her truthfulness.

Sometimes, a divorcing couple's children can be affected by the social networking pages of their parents, causing conflict with family law courts. Courts often attempt to stop parents from being disparaging about one another to their children by issuing restraining orders. On the one hand, this is a First Amendment issue because it calls into question whether Internet speech can be blocked. At the same time, it is nearly impossible to stop a child from accessing such information. Some cases have seen harassment campaigns by an ex-spouse on a social networking site that resulted in the issuing of a civil order of protection.

For better or for worse, social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are playing a key role in family law courts.