Couples considering divorce or going through a divorce have been increasingly using technology, such as computer spyware and Facebook/Twitter, to keep track of their spouses during a divorce. With the growing ease and availability of technology, divorcing spouses are turning to different ways of monitoring each other, including their online activities and conversations. To make matters worse, people are willing to put information on social media sites that could potentially be used in a divorce/custody proceeding.
In Ohio, individuals are allowed to record any conversation, whether it is by phone or in person, to which that person is a party. However, no one can record a conversation that he or she is not party to. For example, you may record conversations between you and your spouse on the phone, even without your spouse’s knowledge or consent. You may not, however, leave a tape recorder in your spouse’s vehicle to record all conversations your spouse has with others when you are not present. Not only would that recording not be admissible in your divorce proceedings, but you could face criminal action!
The rules regarding recordings are fairly clear, but the law regarding spyware and e-mails is more debatable. Many believe that a husband who knows his wife’s e-mail or Facebook password prior to a divorce being initiated could save e-mails and other private messages to later use as evidence. However, e-mail or online information obtained using spyware, or software that records the user’s keystrokes is not likely to be admitted into evidence. Certainly, when an e-mail is created, the author intends that communication to be private. However, when spouses begin putting information on publicly accessible sites such as Facebook and Twitter, the spouse will have no expectation of privacy. Clients who anticipate a divorce or who are currently in the middle of divorce proceedings should refrain from posting information that might be relevant to the case on any public forum.
Facebook (and other social media) can be a treasure trove of information. Information is available through downloaded information, which includes a user’s timeline information such as posts the user has shared, messages, photographs, “likes”, etc. Lawyers can use photographs, status updates, a person’s location at a certain time, e.g. “check ins”, direct communications to a litigant’s social media account(s) and videos.
Below are some examples of posts divorcing couples should refrain from posting on social media:
- Major Expenses – Do not post photographs of expensive vacations or purchases
- Lifestyle Choices – Do not post anything involving drinking, partying or such other behavior if you are in a custody dispute.
- New Romances – The soon-to-be ex will find out, and this can hurt your chances at trying to settle the case; these posts could be relevant in custody cases.
- Sour Grapes – Do not post angry or abusive posts about the spouse or ex-spouse.
The following are warnings for those individuals going through a divorce and/or custody dispute:
- Do not let your friends tag you in photographs or posts as you cannot control what they say in such posts
- Avoid going online after a court appearance, because usually emotions are running high!
- Do not allow anyone to become a “friend” unless you absolutely know that person.
- Do not write or disclose anything about your personal life, without privacy settings on.
- Do not participate in blogs, chat-rooms or message boards.
- Do not drunken post or tweet.
A fearless domestic relations attorney, Julia L. Leveridge does what is best for her clients, and is capable and willing to do whatever it takes to help them move beyond one of the most difficult times in their lives. Contact Julia today by filling out our simple online form.