Facebook Family Law Follies

If you have a Facebook account, you probably know just how much information you can find out about your “friends” with just a click of a button. But did you know that social media is quickly proving to be a goldmine for evidence in court? Maybe you’ve heard about how the police have used Facebook and Twitter to track down criminals, but did you know that social media has begun to play an important role in divorce and child custody cases?

At our Pittsburgh family law firm, our PA divorce attorneys regularly remind our clients to be mindful of their social media presence and what it could mean for their divorce case or custody case. Even though it might be tempting to relay in 140 characters or less how much of a jerk your soon-to-be-ex is on Twitter when you’re going through a divorce case, the fact of the matter is, your family law case can be won, or lost, based on social media evidence.

Consider the case of a father who successfully used Facebook records in court to prove that his ex-wife was playing Farmville in the morning instead of getting the kids to school on time. Based partly on the Facebook evidence introduced, and a number of other factors weighed in the case, the court granted the father primary custody of the parties’ three daughters and limited the Mother’s custody time to a few weekends a month.

But, if you watch a lot of Law & Order, you’re probably thinking – Isn’t that hearsay?! For the most part, you’d be right. Much of social media evidence is hearsay! Hearsay is defined as “an out-of-court statement offered to prove the truth of the matter asserted.” But, although hearsay is generally inadmissible, family court judges have wide latitude to consider otherwise inadmissible evidence, especially if it’s deemed to be “relevant” to the ultimate issue at hand. Given the broad discretion granted to family court judges, its best not to take your chances when it comes to social media and your family law case.

The social media craze isn’t going away anytime soon, so if you or someone you know is going through a divorce or pursuing child custody, it’s important to be mindful of the impact of social media on a family law case. To learn more about privatizing your social media presence to protect your rights, contact our office today to set up a consultation with one of our knowledgeable and experienced Pennsylvania divorce lawyers.

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