Category Archives: Facebook

Social media postings can be used in court. Beware regarding careless or imprudent posts and/or embarrassing screen names.

Facebook, Divorce and Custody Cases

The rise of social media including Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and the like have had an impact on the way Frederick custody and divorce lawyers present cases and the way cases present themselves to us.

Prior to social media, divorce and custody lawyers collected information about the other side by use of

  1. conventional discovery,
  2. witnesses
  3. private investigators.

If you ask an honest lawyer (no jokes please), he will probably tell you that all of those tools were almost universally problematic.

Except for private investigators, these tools all depend, in varying degrees, upon the honesty of the parties and witnesses.

That is obviously a problem.

Private investigators on the other hand, are expensive and sometimes they just can’t prove the facts we need. The facts which were nearly impossible to ascertain, were those that went on behind closed doors.

Not anymore !! Social media postings, email, text and other electronic info now dominate custody and divorce cases. Just take for example the following: I am just one Frederick custody lawyer, so multiply my data by one hundred.

In seventeen YEARS, I have had five cases where a private investigator’s information made the case a winner or a loser.

In the past seventeen MONTHS, I have had at least ten cases where electronic information and social media made the difference in winning and losing. It’s just amazing.

Today people routinely post things on their social media that previously would cost thousands to uncover, if it could be uncovered at all. Better still, the people in question are usually the ones who author the information. Things like: using drugs, partying and drinking, toxic epithets about the ex and info about cheating on their spouse. You just can’t believe what pearls fall into a custody lawyers lap because of somebody’s 3am blog posting in whatever tired and/or intoxicated state they may be.

The information is not limited to what they say in text. Photographs are just as damaging. In the last year I can think of the following one person posted his picture from a bar. Innocent enough? Nope, he was supposed to be home with the kids.

Her boyfriend posted a photo from the same bar ten seconds later. Both were careful not to have anyone with them in the picture but the backgrounds show they were in the same bar at the same time.

Colorful screen names are problematic as well. I know you or your son/daughter thought it was the funniest thing ever when u picked: “Doobie Houser”, “Rum-Runner” or “lookn-4-lust” as a screen name.

When it comes out in court, not so much.

Starting with discovery. “Discovery” is the name for a series of tools that divorce and custody lawyers use. These tools are unique to use by lawyers.

They are

  1.  depositions.
  2. interrogatories
  3. production of documents
  4.  subpoenas

Depositions are statements that are taken usually from adverse parties or adverse witnesses. The witnesses are required to come to the deposition and answer virtually any questions pertinent to the case under oath. it’s a one shot deal and with few exceptions you can’t do it twice. Sadly, its purpose is less to get real information but to “hem in”

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