Margie Ellisor: So what may be causing a divorce? A new study shows Facebook is cited in a third of all cases. Family law attorney Jonathan Marks with the Marks Law Firm joining us this morning to talk a little bit more about this, good morning to you.
Jonathan Marks: Good morning, Margie.
ME: Yeah. And Facebook is kind of increasingly being brought about in cases…how is that?
JM: You know, it’s a primary method of so many people to communicate with friends and family, and it’s so easily accessible, people are so used to doing it, that they just kind of throw anything out there and don’t really think about what they’re posting until after the fact.
ME: Alright, what kinds of things are we talking about specifically should you not be posting?
JM: Well, you know, it really comes in two forms. First of all, you have to look at the photos that you’re posting. What is it that the message is being conveyed when you put that photo on? Is it something between you and somebody you shouldn’t have been with, is it a photo of you with a post and you and your child doing something that you shouldn’t have been doing? The other aspect of it is, what are the messages you are sending and how are those going to be used against you in court? It’s not just the things that you post on your Facebook page itself, but also think about the private messages that you think nobody else is going to see.
ME: Yeah. Because maybe you blocked your spouse, but other people are going to see it who you probably know, and they’re going to talk to somebody, and they’re going to talk to somebody.
JM: The friend of the friend of the friend can end up telling somebody like your spouse or your spouse’s attorney, “Here are the posts you need to be taking a look at,” and things that you think would have been innocuous at the time, or very private, can end up coming back and really impeaching your credibility within a case.
ME: Yeah. It’s also not smart for a spouse to put disparaging comments on Facebook.
JM: Absolutely. So, one of the things when you’re in a child custody case, that you’re going to be looking at is, what is the conduct between the parties, and what they think is going to be in the best interest of the children. If you’re sitting out there and you’re on Facebook, and you’re posting things that are disparaging about your child’s other parent, you’re going to have problems when you get into court because you’re showing that you don’t have the interest of your children at top-of-mind awareness during this point in time.
ME: Maybe you have some great news, “Hey, I got a new job, I won the lottery, I’m getting a raise”…not good to put that on right now, either.
JM: Not….you know, you’re just creating more problems within the case, you’re going to make some more discovery issues, you’re going to increase your attorney’s fees. Obviously if there is a major life change it’s going to be found out, but, you know, also creating false statements that people are going to be taking a look at are also going to be problematic for you within the case.
ME: Yeah. Just recently, a judge in New York permitted a woman to serve divorce papers through Facebook.
ME: Yeah! That’s kind of nuts.
JM: Yeah, so, you know, it’s very unique to New York. I mean, if that happened in Missouri…basically what happened in that situation was they were unable to get personal service on the other spouse. He allegedly had no address, couldn’t be found at work, private processor couldn’t find him…If that happened here in Missouri, we would do Notice by Publication in a legal newspaper, but for some reason, today up in New York they’re deciding that if you could figure out what their Facebook page it you could serve them legal papers that way as well.
ME: Jonathan, what do you advise your clients?
JM: Simple, just stay off Facebook if you can. That, Twitter, other social media entities. It’s the safest route. If you really can’t, you want to use it, you need to be very very careful about what you’re posting, and before you hit the send or post button you better think about, is that going to come back and bite me in the end.
ME: Alright. Jonathan Marks, we appreciate your time this morning.
JM: Thank you, Margie.
ME: For more information about the Marks Law Firm just head to stlmoms.com.