Facebook Used as Evidence in Child Support and Custody Cases

Activity on Facebook and other social media websites like MySpace and Twitter can be used against a party in child support or custody matters. This is because users of social media sites share personal information that often reveals their standard of living, employment and whereabouts - valuable information in disputed family law matters.

How Is Social Media Used In Family Law Cases?

In a recent California child support case, law enforcement subpoenaed Facebook to track down a father who failed to pay more than $100,000 in child support. The information requested by Facebook was wanted to locate the father and determine his income.

This information is not only used to located a party and determine income for child support; it is increasingly used in courtrooms as evidence in all aspects of family law, including custody determinations, property division and spousal support. Once received, this information can provide a lot of evidence about a party, such as:

  • A party's frame of mind: Posts that show poor parental judgment may be used against a party in a custody dispute.
  • Evidence of communication: Conversations between parties and with others about the divorce or custody matter are often used against the poster.
  • Evidence of location: Social media sites like Facebook and Foursquare provide a party's location at any given time and place
  • Evidence of activities: Posts that show, drug use or drinking may affect custody determinations. Additionally, posts about a party's job may reveal evidence of income.

It is important to note that a party may not need a subpoena to access social media information. More than one court has ordered spouses to hand over their Facebook and social media passwords to the other party during the divorce process.

Parties to a divorce or custody dispute have no expectation of privacy when using social media sites. Accordingly, limiting and monitoring social media activity while going through a divorce is advised.

Source: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Investigators tap Facebook for details in child support case," John Diedrich, August 3, 2012

Our law firm handles cases with issues like the one mentioned in this article. For more information, please visit our Divorce and Family Law page.

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