There was an interesting article in Forbes the other day about the increasing importance social media posts play in litigation.
The article pointed to a 2009 case, People v. Franco, in which a jury convicted Franco of vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence.
Threat on Facebook Has Deadly Consequences
In this case, Franco posted on her Facebook page: "If you find me on the freeway and you can keep up I have a really bad habit of racing random people."
The next day, Franco was traveling 75 miles an hour on a freeway when Henry Chavez started to tailgate her. Whenever she changed lanes, he followed her.
Franco testified that she noticed that her speed was increasing so she tapped on her brakes to slow down, ostensibly to avoid getting a ticket. Not expecting her to brake, Chavez veered to avoid a collision with Franco, lost control of his vehicle and died.
This case is a reminder to everyone that what you say on social media, and especially Facebook, can and will be used against you in court.
In fact, what you post on social media can replace the official story you tell a judge in court.
The Danger of Facebook when Mixed with Divorce
Eighty-one percent of American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers report having used or discovered evidence they lifted from social media networks to benefit their clients' cases.
For example, are you trying to portray yourself as a responsible parent? Then don't post images of yourself appearing to be drunk while holding a pint of ale while seated next to your child.
You can bet the judge will see that image.
If you threaten your spouse online, the judge will find out about that too.
If you post pictures of yourself that portray you as a party animal, the judge will see that one also.
What if you don't use social media? Well, your emails and text messages can also be admissible evidence in court.
In other words, don't say or post anything you wouldn't want your grandmother or pastor to see.
Seven Tips for Social Media Use during a Divorce
If you use social media and you're contemplating a divorce, follow these seven guidelines:
- Don't air your grievances about your spouse on social media.
- Refrain from lying about your spouse on social media.
- Never post pictures of yourself at social gatherings.
- Instead of posting publicly on Facebook, which makes your posts discoverable on the Internet, create lists and only send your posts to the people you trust.
- Do not enable location settings on social media and refrain from using Foursquare. In general, these can be dangerous for children and women due to the number of predators that use social media.
- If you're seeing someone, don't disclose your relationship status on Facebook or MySpace.
- The best rule is to take a vacation from social media entirely until your divorce proceedings are over
Top 7 Worst States for Divorce
Yes, California now ranks among the top worst states for getting a divorce.
It's the only state that requires a six-month cooling off period after filing and the court fee just to file - $435 - is among the highest in the nation.
In addition, it can take an entire year to process the paperwork.
The other six states are:
- New York
- South Carolina
- Rhode Island (Here the minimum processing time is 510.)
- Vermont (This is the worst state to get a divorce. A year's residency is required followed by a three-month period to obtain a judge's approval.)
If you have additional questions, check my website for further resources or contact a licensed, family law attorney.