Posts Tagged ‘social media’

Facebook + Difficult Marriage = Divorce

Friday, February 14th, 2020

Ok, I already know what you are thinking.  How can social media alone lead to the downfall of a marriage?  Afterall, there are indeed many people who use Facebook solely to keep in contact with old friends and family.  But let us be totally honest.  Most single  and some married users of Facebook are simply making an attempt to broaden their pool of potential mates (guys, I am especially talking about you). 

There is no question that Facebook does add some positive attributes to one’s social life, but is the unrestricted communication interrupting the sanctity of marriage?  Is it too easy to vent problems with your spouse to any listening ear when we need one the most?  Are the people we “friend” truly able to give us objective and moral advice about a crumbling marriage?  Do they have your best interests at heart, or their own?  Let’s break this into pieces and explore some of what may be obvious but needs to be emphasized.  Emotion without logic never leads anyone to a good life result.

For those of us who grew up as teenagers without cell phones, we remember the simplicity of communicating with the people we held dear.  It was not as easy as it is today…we had to actually call a landline, and for me, I had to make nice with mom or dad before getting on the phone with the young lady I had a crush on.  It seems in some ways that this is the way it should be.  Is it?  Well, to say it succinctly the internet, for all of the benefits, may be more dangerous than valuable. 

It is clear that some of the benefits of wide-open communication are also impediments to the sanctity of personal relationships…marriage in particular.  Not only do we open ourselves to voices that should be distant from our most intimate experiences, we allow more easily anyone to chime in via social media.  I will attempt to break down the reality of social media’s impact on marriage in two ways.

First, it is understandable that when we are dissatisfied with our partner to vent, and what is easier than doing so online?  Gone are the days of landlines and some degree of separation between our marriages and those people who, possibly with good intent, want to tell us how best to decide our paths forward.  Fetching quick advice from a friend online is tempting for everyone, but tread lightly because they are only hearing one side of the story. 

Secondly, that attractive member of the opposite sex does not necessarily have your best interests at heart.  They likely have an agenda…to wedge themself between you and the person you hold dear.  Again, if you sense that they are not supportive of your marriage, they are not supportive of you.  Your spouse is one with you and the law also recognizes that your interests are sacrosanct…they are one in the same.  

Facebook and social media in general have dramatically changed the landscape of divorce.  Even though accounts may be designated as “private”, the bulk of information contained in them is a simple subpoena away for an adept lawyer…that may change quite soon.  Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook C.E.O., recently announced a plan to encrypt all messages sent via their messenger feature.  This basically means they will be nonexistent once they are read.  Talk about a way to cheat in private with no one being able to know a paramour exists.  My suspicion is that most cheaters are looking forward to this feature rolling out in the near future.

As a final thought, divorce rates are down in sheer volume, but have spiked in relation to percentages with the onset of social media.  Divorce trials are inundated with Facebook posts as evidence of adultery.  The personal and intimate nature of romance seems more and more elusive when we are open to unfettered communication.  While it may be a well-meaning friend or a new love interest that interferes in marriage, there does not seem to be any improvement in sight short of people ditching social media outright.  That is a scenario no one can fathom and simply will not happen.

Ever-Relevant…The World Wide Web

Sunday, May 26th, 2019

By: Michael Louvier

Does anyone even remember when we referred to the internet as the “World Wide Web”? That is where the “www” in the site addresses that we all visit daily originated. Back then we tried to be cool and called it “The Web”… That was back in 1990 something prior to Al Gore inventing the internet (rumored, yet to be proven).

Today the internet is as commonplace as travel by automobile. Google and Google Maps have completely replaced the phone book as the easiest and most used methods of finding a business. The computer that we all carry around in our pockets (commonly referred to as a smartphone) will deliver you the phone number, web address, ratings, directions to and almost any other information that you could possibly desire about a business. The Yellow Pages have gone the way of the buggy whip. If you don’t immediately what a buggy whip is (or was), that’s my point.

Immediate and almost unlimited access to information is what the internet delivers. Prior to the “immediate information age”, lawyers actually had to research the law in books. By using the correct search tools and key words, recent and relevant case law is literally at the lawyer’s fingertips after proper training. Today lawyers and law firms save untold amounts of money on books and paper, and they save even more time and money (client’s money, thankfully) by utilizing the internet for legal research and the online filing of pleadings, motions and other case related Court documents. A lawyer may now “e-file” a pleading in a case from his home or office laptop computer. Furthermore, he can accomplish this task at any time of the day or night, regardless of whether or not the Clerk of Court is open. Alas, the internet has made the modern law office much more streamlined and efficient.

Please do not interpret the phrase “streamlined and efficient” to mean that your divorce and/or custody case will now be “easier” or even “less complicated”. Quite the contrary, the internet has made the profession of law more complicated and more competitive than ever. The fact is, everyone has access to this information. Everyone has become more streamlined and efficient. Lawyers, litigants, Judges, and even the children caught up in a custody battle have more information at the ready than ever before. The onus is; therefore, on the lawyer to be well prepared to use this wealth of information or, if the facts gathered by the other side via the internet (Social media) are harmful, he/she must be somehow savvy enough to not allow it to burn his or her client.

As Matthew Poole has previously stated in his article “Facebook: The Great Divorce Equalizer” (posted April 14, 2019): “…a decent lawyer is only a subpoena away from obtaining every social media post and response thereto since the day you walked down that sacred aisle.” More to that point, a Subpoena Duces Tecum served on the wireless provider will provide data regarding texts and calls – that is: who texted or called whom, and when, and how long was the conversation, etc.

This information can, of course, be very damaging to the divorce litigant with that “special someone” waiting in the wings as they text love notes to each other at 2:00am. This data could certainly be used to show that a parent has no idea that the teenager at issue in the custody battle is also texting and calling and snapchatting at all hours of the night and day – during school hours and instead of studying. This could be used to demonstrate a lack of willingness to actually “parent” the child or, even worse, the lack of ability. The Albright Factors, by default, as discussed on this blog site many times, just got introduced to the digital age and the 21st century.

As the love interest in the movie “The Social Network” (2010) told Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook: “it’s the internet…its written in ink”. So be aware of your digital footprint, as it is very easy to use against you in Court, or in your favor if your lawyer is inclined to do the dirty work against your ex for your benefit.

Michael Louvier was born in 1965 in Metairie, LA, graduated from Brother Martin High School in New Orleans in 1983, received a B.A. from University of New Orleans (1988) and a J.D. from Mississippi College School of Law (1994) and is a regular contributor to the blog tab on the world wide website of attorney Matthew S. Poole – www.mspoole.com. If you are reading this, then you obviously have access to the internet and are on the site. Odds are, you are no longer depending on a “dial-up” modem to support this visit. Please include this site into your favorites list and click onto this site often. And may the force be with you. (Sorry, I could not resist a 1970’s reference).

Michael Louvier is married 28 years (Tammy) and they have 2 children (Amy, 25 and Nick, 20).

TAGS: Family Law, Subpoena, Custody, Divorce, Social media, Albright factors

Social Media as Evidence: Your Posts Don’t Lie

Monday, June 4th, 2018

Advances in technology have now made the world’s wisdom accessible to pretty much anyone with a smart phone or computer. Arguably even more astounding than the efficiency and productiveness flowing from this kind of access is the level of connection achievable between people from different parts of the country… or different countries… or different continents. From texting and direct messaging to posting statuses, pictures, videos, and locations, social media has revolutionized the way society communicates. Every day more and more people are putting their lives online for everyone they want to share information with and truthfully some they probably don’t.

It is likely that at some point in time you have been told to consider the cost of hitting “send” or “post” on social media before doing it. For example, should that picture from 3 a.m. last Saturday really be available to everyone? What about that status raising cane against your careless uncle Joe for backing into your car? The reason for this instruction is to reiterate the broad accessibility and eternal permanency of sharing information through the Internet. Unfortunately, though, many people still fail to see the laundry list of unintended consequences that may result from even just one poorly thought-out post.

Many employers have openly begun monitoring current employee’s social media accounts or combing through posts of a potential employee before an interview. But even if you don’t “clean” your accounts well enough, the worst that can happen is losing a job… right? No. Actually, your social media accounts could end up being used as evidence against you in court. A survey from the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers in 2010 found that 81% of divorce attorneys had seen an increase in evidence taken from wireless devices and 66% cited Facebook as the source of this evidence. Social media can be used as evidence to prove a variety of things like your opinions or thoughts, the time and place of your actions, communications or interactions with others, and even your income or purchases.

According to Washington family attorney McKinley Irvin, one reason social media accounts create relationship problems is because of the amount of time spent on them. A study published in Computers in Human Behavior showed that a 20% increase in Facebook enrollment equated to a 2.18% to 4.32% increase in divorce rates. If you’ve ever looked around a crowded restaurant at lunchtime, this statistic should not come as a shock. The number of people staring at their phones instead of conversing with their present company is staggering. If the quality of conversation in a social setting this low, it is easy to see how the same behavior at home could quickly destroy emotional connections and ultimately derail a marriage.

Attorney Irvin states that social media also creates an easy outlet for jealousy or distrust to flourish in a relationship. In fact, one in five people claim that they question their relationship after finding something suspicious on their partner’s social media account. Unfortunately, sometimes suspicions of infidelity are well warranted. Approximately one in ten people admit to hiding messages or social media posts from their partner and 8% of people even admit to having secret social media accounts. With all of this on the table, it is not surprising that one in three divorces are actually instigated because of online communications or affairs.

It is important to remember that even if your social media accounts are private, you can still legally be required to provide information from them during a lawsuit. Deleting anything will usually violate a court order and is unlikely to be effective anyway. As previously stated, information is never really gone once it is online. If you’re in the middle of a lawsuit, the best advice is to deactivate your social media accounts until the matter is settled.

The Law Office of Matthew S. Poole has the expertise to handle many types of family law cases. If you or someone you know is looking for a divorce or child custody attorney, please don’t hesitate to call us. We would be happy to help you obtain justice as efficiently and inexpensively as possible regardless of whether you or your spouse has committed an online “faux-pas.”

Written by Jessica Jasper, J.D. Candidate, Class of 2020, Mississippi College School of Law