Family law attorneys in Pennsylvania say that evidence gathered from Facebook is growing more common in divorce cases around the state. The poor behavior of rival spouses often finds its way into divorce and child custody hearings and because of that many attorneys advise their clients to quit Facebook and other social media sites.
Family law attorneys use evidence gathered from social media sites in generally two ways: to protect clients and to substantiate their clients' cases by looking at the online behavior of their former partners. Often, even though their attorney has warned them about the impact of making poor choices online many clients continue to make unsavory decisions. Sometimes family law attorneys are not even aware of the behavior of their clients.
In one case of poor, online decision making, a father posted on Facebook that he wanted to take his anger out by placing a picture of his former wife on a punching bag since he could not punch her in real life. The evidence of that post was used during a child custody hearing and the father ended up losing primary child custody because of the post.
In another instance of unpalatable online behavior, a different father created a fake Facebook profile of his former wife and mother of his children. The fake profile showed the mother in a swimsuit with fake posts and status updates. The father even decided to friend his former wife's actual friends using the fake profile. In court, the evidence of the fake page and the father's actions were admitted and the evidence was factored into the judge's decision.
To present the best possible case in court, many family law attorneys in Pennsylvania have social media talks with their clients, and generally advise them to not make posts about their former spouses, children and cases.
Source: The Legal Intelligencer, "Facebook has become a factor for Pennsylvania family law cases," Ben Present, Jan. 31, 2012