In a recent groundbreaking ruling in Manhattan, a judge ruled that a woman could serve her husband with divorce papers over Facebook because serving him by any other means was considered an “impossibility.” This ruling could provide a basis for the regular use of FaceBook to find missing defendants. With so many spouses having trouble serving their missing partners, this ruling could mean quicker, easier, and less expensive access to divorces for people who previously had more trouble. This is a good thing as it provides a means of access. On the other hand, it’s important to remember that what’s put on FaceBook, Twitter, Instagram and other social media sites is never private and can follow you into court and be used as evidence.
In the U.S. and abroad, social media plays an increasingly larger role in the dissolution of marriages. In the UK, one in seven people reports that they have considered divorce due to a spouse’s “questionable activities” on Facebook. One quarter of people in the UK indicated that they have had at least one argument per week related to social media activity, with 17% fighting about it daily. Increasingly divorces in the U.S. is at least partially due to Facebook activities.
In the U.S., as of 2010, 81% of attorneys have reported seeing an increase in the number of divorce cases using social network posts as evidence since 2005. Further, Facebook is known as the number one source for finding online evidence and two-thirds of attorneys have found evidence for their own divorce cases on Facebook.
During litigation, parties prove their positions using evidence. Wall posts, pictures, comments, direct messages, and check-ins are increasingly used as evidence to prove actions or abilities. For example, if you argue that you cannot pay spousal support, but post pictures of recent expensive purchases on social media, those facts could be used against you.
So remember, this double edged sword is a useful tool providing a means to stay in touch with people but has potential consequences for those who are not careful.