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Can a simple Facebook post affect a California divorce?

There is little question that electronic communications have become ubiquitous in our culture. Social media outlets are commonplace, and who doesn’t have an email account? Many people in California use such outlets as Facebook, Twitter and many other electronic networking services to keep in touch with friends, and also to opine on daily events. Some people use such communications as a form of public diary.

A great deal of information may be shared online through these social media outlets. Occasionally, a person may post a comment in an off-the-cuff manner without thinking about it seriously. But, communications made through these outlets may later be used as evidence in court for a variety of purposes—including evidence in a California divorce proceeding. Some commentators say that posts on social media have created difficulties in settlement negotiations during a divorce.

Married couples may handle finances very differently from other couples during the course of a marriage. In some households, for example, one spouse may take care of all the finances. The person who does not attend to money issues in these types of situations may be unaware of assets that may be part of the marital estate if the marriage should later break down. A recent article carried by Forbes says that some people mine social media outlets to find evidence of potential hidden assets.

The author of the Forbes article says that information sent via email, posted on social media outlets and information contained in smartphone applications or text messages can be a treasure trove for use in divorce court litigation. Often, seemingly innocuous comments or photos about a weekend outing may be used at a later date in a divorce proceeding, according to the author. Use of caution, self-editing before posting comments and photos on the web and the exercise of judgment is important in using electronic communications.

While the author appears to focus on potential uses of social media and electronic communications in seeking evidence for divorce, it is important to note that hiding assets from an estranged spouse (and the court) in a California divorce is not legal. A family law attorney can work with a person seeking divorce in seeking a fair and equitable settlement in family court.

Source: Forbes, “How Social Media Can Affect Your Divorce,” Jeff Landers, Aug. 20, 2013

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