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Caution: Facebook may be used against you in family court

Do you communicate using Facebook, Twitter or other social media platforms? Some Rhode Island residents know that in a divorce proceeding, it can be challenging gathering evidence that demonstrates the poor or malicious character of the opposing party. However, recent surveys from the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (AAML) show that there has been an increase in the use of evidence taken from social networking sites and other technological devices for family law proceedings.

AAML's most recent survey shows that 92 percent of respondents report an increase in the number of cases using evidence taken from smartphones. Ninety-four percent have indicated an overall rise in the use of text messages as evidence. According to reports, Facebook was the most popular site for extracting evidence.

The studies prove that having evidence in writing is always helpful in evaluating someone's credibility or character. Furthermore, in family law, once a person's credibility is questioned with their own documented statements, then everything else can be doubted about them.

Sources caution that once you put something writing, a judge will eventually read it. However, because the way we communicate has changed over the past few years, it is not easy to avoid technological communication. Facebook posts are a part of our everyday lives.

Furthermore, sources explain that because they are so immediate and easy to compose, text messages are often the most incriminating. They are created capriciously, in the spur of the moment. Text messages result in compromising evidence that is emotional and not thought through. A source explains that "texts can be the written equivalent of a heated discussion, but without any of the doubt afterward about the exact words and language that had been used."

Ultimately, it's important to be cautious of what you are writing or transmitting via text messages or social media websites. A former thoughtless statement could come back to haunt you in the future.

Source: Huffington Post, "Getting divorced? Stop texting and get off Facebook," Ken Altshuler, Feb. 23, 2012

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