You’ve got to love lawyers sometimes. If nothing else, they’re a resourceful group of people. If there is information out there that can help win a case, you can count on a lawyer to find it, massage it, and use it to their client’s advantage. What makes a good lawyer? Research, baby, research.
We’ve mentioned before that divorce attorneys have figured out how to use incriminating text messages to their advantage. So it should really come as no surprise that divorce attorneys are also using Facebook to dig up information on the soon-to-be-ex spouses of their clients.
If anything, the only surprising thing is how stupid people are on Facebook even when they are in the midst of active litigation. CNN had a nice story yesterday, documenting this trend:
Before the explosion of social media, Ken Altshuler, a divorce lawyer in Maine, dug up dirt on his client’s spouses the old-fashioned way: with private investigators and subpoenas. Now the first place his team checks for evidence is Facebook…
“Facebook is a great source of evidence,” Altshuler said. “It’s absolutely solid evidence because he’s the author of it. How do you deny that you put that on?”
What kind of idiots put something on Facebook they don’t want their spouse to see? Apparently, the cheating kind….
There are many laudable reasons to not cheat on your spouse. If you are struggling to come up with one, you could always fall back on Chris Rock’s reasoning: “You’re gonna get caught.” Facebook just makes you so much easier to catch:
Posting hugging and kissing photos online can show a happily married relationship, or it can expose a secretive affair. At least 80 percent of attorneys surveyed by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers cited a growth in the number of cases that used social media over the last five years. The study was released earlier this year.
Divorce attorneys say social media sites have opened windows for infidelity because it’s become easier to rekindle romance with an old flame or flirt with a stranger. And the posted, shared, and tagged evidence of infidelity is precisely the type of evidence attorneys look for online.
And that’s not even getting into situations where the other person tags you in some compromising photo. Oh, you were in Cleveland on business? Then why were you tagged in the album “at the park with my new man”?
Even if you are reasonably sure you can protect your Facebook profile from your spouse, that doesn’t mean you can protect it from his or her lawyer. Remember, good divorce attorneys (or their hired private investigators) don’t even need to catch directly incriminating evidence on Facebook — they just need a good lead:
[Divorce attorney Lee Rosen] was investigating a North Carolina husband in his 40s accused of cheating on his wife. The husband failed to set privacy controls on his Facebook wall, an area where users can post information. Rosen noticed a suspicious message from the husband’s younger female co-worker. The post was the hunch he needed to steer him in right direction.
Or attorneys can look at “frenemies”:
The most common way to gather information on Facebook relies on the battling couple’s mutual online friends who still have access to the spouse’s profile. Many times the spouse will “de-friend” a partner but forget about their shared friends, who can play detective and access information on their profile.
Another way of exposing damaging information is searching the profiles of the suspected “other man” or “other woman”, says says Marlene Eskind Moses, a divorce attorney in Tennessee.
Honestly, adulterers are f****d. There’s going to be evidence of extramarital affairs, and committed divorce lawyers have so many tools at their disposal to find it.
Your best defense is what it’s always been: keep it in your pants. Even if you are not on Facebook, chances are the person you’re banging out of turn is.