Forewarning to those couples that are in the midst of heavy divorce battles ... clean up your Facebook and any other social networking website that might hint that you're not the amazing parent or wife that you're claiming to be before the judge.
Swear you don't smoke pot? Well, that photo of you in college sitting beside a bong may hold enough weight in court to prove otherwise, even if it was 10 years ago.
Promise that you're an amazing parent, attending all of your kids' soccer games? Then how come you were tweeting during a time that you were supposed to be at the game?
It sounds a little severe, but according to a recent article, any evidence that can be taken from these types of sites are being used in divorce cases. And let's face it, divorces can get ugly and people will do just about anything to make sure things go their way in court, especially if kids are involved.
The American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers says 81 percent of its members have used or faced evidence plucked from Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, and other social networking sites, including YouTube and LinkedIn, over the last five years.
"It's all pretty good evidence," said Linda Lea Viken, president-elect of the 1,600-member group. "You can't really fake a page off of Facebook. The judges don't really have any problems letting it in."
So, heaven forbid you find yourself getting a divorce (knock on wood this doesn't happen), here are some tips to make sure your virtual life doesn't completely take out your personal one:
- What you say will be held against you ... even if it's on your friend's wall: Don't post anything that you wouldn't want the judge to see. And delete anything that's posted about you.
- Pictures are worth a thousand words dollars: Photographic evidence in a courtroom never ends well for the defense.
- Keep up-to-date on privacy: It's Tuesday, which means Facebook has probably changed their privacy settings again. They're constantly changing, so we have to always be aware of what they are, and make sure our settings are correct, as well as anyone that you may be involved with. Viken tells the story of a client accused of adultery. He denied it in court, but the girlfriend's page wasn't secure, and guess what was on there ...
Do you think the law takes it too far by bringing social networking sites into the courtroom, or is this just a new way to get evidence in today's online world?