Pasadena divorce attorneys have undoubtedly seen a change in the way the divorce game is played thanks to social media sites like Facebook. The previously private dating and social lives that now happen online are being drug into courtrooms, with lawyers and judges keeping a watchful eye on these poplar channels of communication. Now a Connecticut judge is making headlines for ordering a divorcing couple to exchange Facebook and online dating site passwords.
Judge Kenneth Shluger of the New London District Superior Court ordered the lawyers for Stephen and Courtney Gallion to exchange "their client's Facebook and dating Web site passwords," according to Forbes. Stephen Gallion's lawyer says his client found incriminating evidence on the computer he shares with his wife. This information led Mr. Gallion to believe more evidence would turn up on her social networking accounts. Mr. Gallion's lawyer says Courtney's Facebook page could have information about how she feels about her children and her ability to care for them, which in turn could help his client's plea for full custody. Courtney was asked for her eHarmony.com and Match.com passwords during a deposition, but she refused. She later turned them in after her lawyer advised her to do so. According to Mr. Gallion's attorney, Courtney sent a text message to a friend asking her to delete some of her messages on the dating sites. Mr. Gallion's legal team retaliated and asked for an injunction from Judge Shulger barring Courtney from deleting material. Shulger granted this request and ordered the lawyers for the couple to exchange passwords for both spouses so the attorneys could conduct discovery.
A court order like this is controversial for several reasons. First of all, the order gives lawyers free rein on anything posted to a social media account, including one-on-one messages. Also, it violates Facebook's terms of service, which clearly requires users not give their passwords to anyone else. In the end, social networking isn't going anywhere... so if you're divorcing, make sure you delete long before you get to your lawyer's office.