Before the age of the internet, divorce attorneys used subpoenas and private investigators to glean the truth from opposing parties. Now, with the advent of social networking sites, the first place many attorneys can find incriminating evidence is on Facebook. Social networking discovery skills have become critical for many divorce attorneys who seek to support certain aspects of their cases. Incriminating information gleaned from social networking sites can sway the outcome of alimony disputes and child custody battles, particularly if the information discredits the party in the eyes of the presiding judge.
Eighty percent of attorneys surveyed by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers reported a rise in the number of cases litigated that relied on social media over the past five years. Because Facebook boasts over 400 million users, most parties to litigation are bound to have created social networking accounts at some point in time. However, last week Facebook announced a tightening of users’ privacy settings in response to many user complaints.
National Digital Forensics, Inc., a North Carolina company that mines online media sites for information, reports that requests for social media searches from divorce lawyers have surged recently. The company’s senior investigator estimates that about half the social media cases they investigate expose some form of adultery.