A recent divorce case highlights the need for caution when it comes to a social media presence. In Michigan and beyond, husbands and wives who are contemplating divorce should be evaluating the messages they are sending to the online world.
An East Coast woman had been awarded $850 per month in spousal support. She told the judge that she needed the money because a car accident, which occurred on her second wedding anniversary, had left her unable to work for more than a dozen years.
She picked up a new hobby, however: belly dancing. She found it so enjoyable that she blogged about it and posted about it on Facebook. Her ex-husband didn’t think that her activities were those of a woman unable to work. He brought the evidence of her physical fitness to the court.
The court agreed with the ex-husband. Now, the former wife’s alimony payments are less than half what they were – and they end in two years, instead of lasting for life. In addition, she must pay a significant portion of her ex-husband’s attorney fees because of her behavior during the case.
Keeping Private Life Under Wraps
Although the story of the belly-dancing ex-wife is entertaining, it also serves to show people involved in family law disputes the dangers of sharing information in social media. Whether they are going through a divorce, litigating child support or spousal support, or negotiating child custody, the parties should take care not to post anything that could be damaging to their cause.
If a photo, story or status update could contradict what an estranged spouse wishes to portray about him- or herself, it should not be posted. Whether or not the information tells the whole story, it could be used during the divorce process or for purposes of modification of a court order. This is why the utmost care is necessary.
The simplest advice to people who are facing family law issues is to stay away from social media. If that is not possible, they should be extremely judicious in what they share. In Michigan, electronic evidence can have a significant impact on the outcome of family law cases.
Source: NPR.org, “Belly Dancing Scuttles Woman’s Disability Claim” April 18, 2011.