We have previously written (Divorce in Mecklenburg County, NC and Facebook) about the dangers associated with Facebook when it comes to divorce, but we have never talked about the impact Facebook can have on child support arrangements. It’s common knowledge that these days North Carolina courts and law enforcement agencies are aiming to ensure that parents who owe court-ordered child support fulfill their financial obligations.
Obligors who fail to pay may be charged with contempt of court. If payments become severely delinquent, law enforcement and governmental agencies can sometimes step in and garnish wages, suspended a drivers’ license, or even put the delinquent parent in jail.
While child support is usually handled at the state level, the federal government sometimes gets involved in special situations, including when the debtor crosses state lines to avoid paying child support. In a recent federal case involving felony charges for unpaid child support, authorities succeeded in tracking down the debtor using a tool that is becoming increasingly common in such cases: Facebook.
The man is a native of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, but now lives in Southern California. He was ordered to pay child support for his daughter but allegedly has not made any payments since 1996. In 2008, authorities charged him with six felony counts of unpaid child support, and he now reportedly owes over $100,000 in past due support payments.
Investigators recently learned of information concerning the man’s location only after filing a search warrant related to his Facebook information. The social media site contains such a wealth of user-provided personal data that it is often seen as a valuable tool in criminal investigations as well as civil cases.
Facebook even provides information on how law enforcement can gain access to a user’s data beyond what is publicly available. In child support cases, authorities may be looking for information on a delinquent parent’s current address, current job or source of income and any other information that may be helpful in locating the person and holding him or her financially responsible. Many of these people don’t seem to realize that the very public information they share over the internet is exactly what they are trying to keep secret from law enforcement and spouses.
If you find yourself facing the prospect of divorce in Charlotte, contact an experienced family law attorney in Charlotte, North Carolina like those at Arnold & Smith, PLLC who can help guide you through the sometimes-confusing process.
See Our Related Blog Posts: