Divorce

Social Media Implications in Family Law Cases

The landscape of evidentiary tools available in today’s divorce cases is rapidly evolving, and the courts in this country are becoming more openly accepting of them. With the advent of social tools like Facebook and Twitter, incriminating evidence has never been easier to obtain. You now must be extremely mindful and filter the information and pictures that are posted to your profile page, because such evidence can be used against you and possibly deal a devastating blow to your divorce and/or custody case.

One recent example of a court ruling in favor of full disclosure of social media profiles comes out of a personal injury lawsuit in Pennsylvania, Zimmerman v. Weis Markets, 2011 Pa. Dist. & Cnty. Dec. LEXIS 187. The employer being sued filed a motion to compel disclosure and preservation of the employee’s Facebook and Myspace information on the non-public portions of the websites, which would require disclosure of user names and passwords to the employer. The basis for the employer’s motion and the rationale for the court’s ruling was that because there was evidence contrary to the employee’s claim available on the publicly accessible portions of the websites, it was reasonably likely for there to be other relevant information to the claim on the non-public portions of the pages.

The court granted the motion, reasoning that “no privilege exists for information posted in the non-public sections of social websites, liberal discovery is generally allowable, and the pursuit of truth as to alleged claims is a paramount ideal.” The court agreed that allowing a party to a lawsuit to hide behind privacy controls on a website which enables people to share social information risks depriving the opposite party of access to relevant material and a fair trial. The court also held that such a ruling does not violate any fourth amendment rights, which protects people, not places; further, there is no reasonable expectation to privacy on a social website, and privacy concerns are far less where the objector voluntarily disclosed the information. The court strongly closed their opinion, stating that “any relevant, non-privileged information about one’s life that is shared with others and can be gleaned by defendants from the internet is fair game in today’s society”.

The rationale adopted in this case is yet another example of how litigants should be extremely careful when navigating through social media.   Remember, once you post something, it is extremely likely, if not certain, that such information will be used against you in a family law case.


Divorce Hotel?

The New York Times recently ran a story on “Divorce Hotels”.  It’s not such a strange concept.  Click here for the NY Times story. A divorcing coupe stays at the same hotel to ensure the process moves forward. No delays. Lawyers there focus on that case. Paying attention to a case often helps “get ‘er done”.

Is this the wave of the future? Probably not.  Is there a place for it? Maybe.  The real bottom line is that once people are ready, emotionally and with all of the facts (an understanding of all finances/incomes/property values, etc.), divorcing parties should get together, be it for mediation or a settlement conference, or even a weekend at the “divorce hotel”, and they should not stop trying to reach resolution until it is done.  The alternative, trial, is expensive, costly and very, very imperfect.  Keeping hold of your own desitiny is vital.  Mediation, and maybe even the “divorce hotel” offers an opportunity to do that.


Same sex marriage

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-ftMjy_otnE[/youtube]


Defense of Marriage Act

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LHPx2BttmlQ[/youtube]


Grandparent custody and visitation

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LgSFnKkN-8M[/youtube]


Deion Sanders Divorce


Entertainers’ child support cases

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FnOMpWg0Jt4[/youtube]


Athletes’ child support cases

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PBQG1OQ89MA[/youtube]


A scratch can land you in jail

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xsTZptuoPB0[/youtube]


Divorce and Young Children

If you are the parent of a young child, particularly of preschool age, you may want to consider consulting a child psychologist before and during your divorce proceedings. According to this article, recent studies show that a collapsing family structure may lead to long-term behavioral problems in young children. Because your child’s “support network” is undergoing changes (often involving a move from a blended to single parent family) it is important to provide a sense of unity and structure for your child. Therapy may help in promoting healthy childhood development despite any familial changes brought on by divorce.