“Facebook passwords must be shared in divorce, really?”
A Connecticut judge has ordered a couple that was divorcing to share their online passwords, Facebook and others. This exemplifies the important role that social media information can play in family law cases.
The judge issued the order in response to the revelation of a husband that his wife had wrote messages on Facebook about her feelings towards children and her inability to care for them. This was all done on the couple’s shared computer. The wife was also ordered to surrender the passwords for her accounts on eHarmony and Match.com.
In March, the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers found that 80 percent of divorce cases included media messages, especially Facebook, as fiduciary evidence over the past five years. And the evidence even extended beyond the written messages to include the images that were included in their profiles.
“I saw a picture of a child in front of a coffee table with bags of marijuana, whiskey bottles and a lot of money,” said the Director of the Marion County Domestic Relations Department. “We called Child Protective Services so that they can be involved to ensure that the child was protected.”
Lawyers are not the only ones committing online espionage. Police, prosecutors and health insurers are increasingly utilizing social media for collecting evidence to prosecute crimes and investigate fraudulent claims. Lawyers are increasingly searching through the messages, and check-ins on social networking sites to determine even selection jury members.
Some may see the judge’s order in the particular case as a court-authorized piracy, but others see it as a reasonable request for relevant piece of a puzzle in family court. In any case, the court is following suit with the people’s fascination with technology as it deems appropriate. The increasing prevalence of Facebook and assorted social media will ensure the issue is likely to be a growing research tool in the future.