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Complex divorce in Florida: Facebook entering the fray

Couples in Fort Lauderdale that use Facebook and are also considering divorce may be interested in a recent study showing that the social media site is playing a larger role in divorce cases. The American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers found that 80 percent of divorce lawyers either used evidence obtained from Facebook or had it used against their clients by counsel for the other spouse. Evidence like this can turn even the simplest of cases into a complex divorce.

The stories all seem similar. Couples who blame Facebook for playing a part in the collapse of their marriage often found incriminating messages or chat histories. Others suspected their partners of using the site to reconnect with old flames. Many say their partners were hiding their computer screens from them, or they discovered the Facebook infidelity through a third party.

While some of the people involved do not blame Facebook for their divorce, others believe that the site holds some culpability in the demise of their marriage. Discontent with a relationship has sometimes been exacerbated by Facebook, which can become a place that unhappy spouses turn to for virtual connections. And what likely seemed private at the time can subsequently burst into a central issue in complex divorce litigation.

When messaging or chat histories hold potentially incriminating evidence that can be used against a person in a divorce case, those messages may no longer be private. In fact, the increase in technology and the ease in which people can communicate with each other electronically appears to have changed how the courts handle matrimonial cases. It has now become easier for lawyers to gather evidence for their clients, especially if the other spouse has a Facebook account.

Divorcing couples in the Fort Lauderdale area may wish to remember that online correspondence is only as private as the message it contains. If it finds its way into a complex divorce case, any incriminating evidence may be used as leverage to gain an upper hand in the proceedings. Those affected would do well to educate themselves to the relevant laws and procedures and act accordingly to protect their interests.

Source: KHOU, "'Happily ever after' less likely for married couples using Facebook," Katherine Whaley, Feb. 16, 2012

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