Social media and networking sites are changing the way that information is shared during divorce cases. Where lives were once kept hidden during the divorce process, they are now on display, often flaunted in the face of an ex. According to reports, judges in the UK have been giving lawyers permission to access Facebook, Twitter and other social networking sites to uncover hidden wealth during divorce. For those who are facing divorce, consider the reality that private information may be accessible by your spouse, or worse, their divorce attorney.
Dividing marital property requires that both parties are up front about their assets and possessions. It is not uncommon for one or both parties to “hide assets” during divorce. Our Birminghamdivorce attorneys are experienced in helping clients protect their rights, locate hidden assets, and ensure that property is fairly and legally divided at the time of divorce. We are also abreast of changes in law and social media trends that could impact the results of a divorce case.
Facebook and other social media sites contain a host of personal information and can be used in the discovery process of a divorce case, especially if assets have been hidden from a spouse. In the UK, lawyers can seek court orders for disclosure of personal information from people's Facebook and Twitter profiles without the consent of the defendant. Expert in asset recovery and fraud prevention have been using Facebook accounts to unveil hidden assets, frauds, or determine where money might have been spent. Social media accounts have been able to offer insight into whether a person has lied about hidden assets. In some cases, it may direct attorneys or judges as to current wealth or where that money was hidden or spent.
English law gives court orders precedence over normal privacy laws when fraud is suspected. Lawyers in the UK have found Facebook to be an easy way to plumb the mass of personal information stored online, making it more likely that a spouse is found by their partners. For those in the business of finding hidden assets, these accounts makes it easier to uncover hidden assets and protect their clients. In the past, this information was uncovered through testimony or other discovery methods, but now people are putting so much information online that it has become easier to access. Internet data storage methods may include emails, texts, social media, and networking sites. In cases involving fraud, this information can be invaluable.
Currently, privacy laws, including the Stored Communications Act, does protect U.S. account holders, but there are still some ways of gathering certain information without a court order or hacking a Facebook account. In some cases, posting pictures of a vacation, spending money with a new girlfriend, or the mention of a new car can spark an investigation. While U.S. divorce courts cannot issue subpoenas to Facebook, those entering a divorce should be wary of how information that is posted online can be used in court.
If you are seeking a divorce in Birmingham, contact Family Law Attorney Steven Eversole at (866) 831-5292.