A Connecticut judge has ordered a divorcing couple to share their Facebook passwords and other online account information.
The judge issued the order in response to the husband’s claim that his wife had posted negative statements about her feelings for the couple’s children and her ability to care for them. The wife was also ordered to turn over passwords for her eHarmony and Match.com accounts.
The American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers has found that in the past five years 81 percent of divorce cases included evidence derived from social media posts -- mostly from Facebook.
Pictures posted on social media sites can also be used as evidence.
"I saw a picture of a toddler in front of a coffee table with bags of marijuana, whiskey bottles and a big pile of money," said Janice Davidson, director of the Marion County Domestic Relations Counseling Bureau. "We called Child Protective Services and got them involved so they could make sure that child was protected."
A survey conducted in the UK (which, unlike the US, doesn’t have no-fault divorce), found that over 33% of 5,000 petitions studied mentioned the word “Facebook.”
The top reasons Facebook was cited in these petitions were in regard to:
- Inappropriate messages from a spouse to members of the opposite sex
- Spouses posting nasty comments about each other
- Facebook friends reporting on spouse’s behavior
In contrast, Twitter appeared in only 20 petitions – less than 1% of the total.
Examples of instances in which social networking data has been used in custody cases include:
- A husband stating on Match.com that he is childless, while seeking primary custody of his children
- A husband denying anger management issues, while making angry and violent posts on his Facebook page
- A father seeking custody on the grounds that his ex-wife never attended events with their children showing that the ex-wife was playing World of Warcraft online with her boyfriend at the time of the events
- A mother denying that she smokes marijuana yet posting pictures of herself smoking it on Facebook