What Are Some Digital Divorce Dangers?
The negative aspects of technology can affect our marriages. Four years ago, the first known case of “divorce by Facebook” took place. A wife discovered online that her husband no longer wanted to stay married. To add public insult to injury, some commenters applauded the husband’s negative posts. A recent study by the Center for Research on Marriage and Religion concluded that pornography is a “silent” marriage killer, contributing to infidelity — which factors into more than half of all divorces.
Matters once considered private are now regularly exposed to the online public, and attorneys have reported a massive upswing in the use of social networking evidence in divorces. Searches of Facebook entries and Twitter accounts can turn up evidence of infidelities or data to discredit a spouse’s representations in divorce proceedings. Technology can provide seamless access to marital help resources and focused family support groups. However, it can clearly be used as a weapon in non-amicable divorces where the mutual scrutiny of adversarial spouses is often the rule. Be aware of the following potential weapons:
- Digital records. Voicemails, text messages, and GPS and SunPass records can determine where you have been, what were you doing there and who you were doing it with.
- Spyware. While this kind of eavesdropping has been held in violation of the Florida Security Communications Act, and is likely criminal and inadmissible in a divorce, e-mail and online monitoring can certainly damage your reputation and standing in a community.
- Social networking. Before Facebook, lawyers used private sleuths to dig up ‘dirt’ about people behaving badly. While Florida is a no-fault divorce state, proof of infidelities, spousal abuse, negative comments about your spouse or other indiscretions can impact child custody and alimony terms — for example, if you spent marital assets wooing a non-marital partner, your claims for alimony could suffer.
Divorcing partners should periodically change all of their passwords and avoid posting anything indiscreet on the web, whether you think it relates to your divorce or not. Our Florida divorce lawyer, Jennifer T. Miller-Morse, can advise you on what pitfalls to avoid during the divorce process.