Facebook, the site that was once used for sharing party pics and finding long-lost friends is now the reason behind one-third of divorces. In a study by Divorce Online, 33% of all divorce filings in 2011 contained the word “Facebook,” an increase from the 20% back in 2008. Not surprisingly, the number-one reason why Facebook was at fault in these cases was due to “inappropriate messages to members of the opposite sex.” Other common complaints included cruel posts or comments between separated spouses or Facebook friends exposing a spouse’s inappropriate social media behavior to their partner.
In the state of Georgia, bad conduct by either party may be relevant and may also impact judgments in child custody, visitation, property division and alimony matters. So it should come as no surprise that spouses’ incriminating Facebook timelines are increasingly finding themselves as evidence in divorce proceedings. According to the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, 81% of its members have seen a rise in the number of divorce cases involving information taken from social networking sites, and 66% cite Facebook as the primary source for online divorce evidence of marital discord and misconduct.
Facebook may be used as evidence for a multitude of family law issues. For example, a party’s posting may show expenditures that do not align with the claims the party is making regarding child support or maintenance. The party may be claiming non-payment of support due to financial inability to pay in the litigation, and yet the posting may show a lavish trip or expensive new purchase for a significant other. Similarly, a party’s profile may evidence his or her employment or employability, despite claims in a litigation of unemployment or inability to be employed. Facebook may also play a role in custody cases, as spouse may engage in an angry tirade against the other, thereby demonstrating an inability to get along and co-parent. Posted pictures or videos may reveal a night of heavy drinking, which may be used against a spouse in a custody battle. Notably, it is not only a party’s postings, but postings by friends or relatives of the party that may be evidence in a litigation.