Facebook as a Source of Information
If you cannot stay off of Facebook while you are involved in a domestic relations legal matter you should not post anything on Facebook. If you have to post something, at the very least you should not post anything related to your legal case or anything that could be construed as being related to it.
Now, as with anything in the law, there are no absolutes. If the other party is on Facebook, you should consider using Facebook too. Not to post or engage anyone on Facebook, but instead as a way of gathering information on the other party. The best part is that you need not be on Facebook. Any of your relatives or friends can do this for you. Friends that you share with the other party are the best. If the other party is smart or cautious, they probably will have “unfriended” your close friends and/or relatives. My experience is that this is not always done.
By having someone monitor the other party’s Facebook, my client’s have learned lots of information that we have been able to use to help their cases in and out of court.
For example, one client learned that her unemployed ex-husband, who was not paying child support, posted information about his new job on his Facebook. That cost him a few bucks. Another client had an ex-wife who took a lot of vacations and posted her photos of these her trips on Facebook. When she tried to increase his child support obligation based upon the “needs of the children” I was able to cross-examine her using some of her the photos of her trips that we obtained from her Facebook. In another case, we learned that our client’s ex-wife spent $15,000 on breast reconstruction and a “mommy makeover”. This came in very handy at their child support hearing.
Legitimate Facebook surveillance need not be limited to only the other party. The new spouse or significant other and their step-children all are possible sources of valuable information. For example, one of my clients learned that her ex-husband had quit his job and was going to move out of state – probably to avoid paying child support – by a post that his step-son made mentioning that his family was moving soon.
Another client learned from Facebook, by a mutual friend, that her ex-husband was dating a woman, and from that woman’s Facebook she learned that that woman had lost custody of her children recently. This gave us enough information so that at our next court appearance we were able to bring this to the court’s attention and obtain an order prohibiting the husband from allowing the children from having contact with his new girlfriend.
Conversely, do not let your Facebook provide information that can, and will, be used against you. Do not post on Facebook. Set your privacy settings as restrictive as possible. But, if you can, just stay off Facebook.