Social Media: Divorce Attorney's New Smoking Gun


I'm actually kind of surprised this hasn't come up before: according to CNN, divorce lawyers are now mining social media for evidence of misdoings by errant spouses -- joining the ranks of employers snooping on recent college grads and burglars looking for easy marks on vacation. In fact, a survey conducted by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers found 80% of respondents said they'd seen an increase in cases involving social media over the last year. Many divorce attorneys have begun using a site, Flowtown, more commonly used by marketers, to uncover social media profiles by searching for an email address.

Like these other unwitting victims, some of the examples cited in the CNN article were clearly begging for comeuppance by virtue of their sheer stupidity. Divorce lawyers are collecting evidence of infidelity from online photo albums, profile pages, wall comments, status updates and tweets, according to the AAML. Some of this is only indirectly incriminating -- basically, providing clues that lead lawyers to the "smoking gun" for an extramarital affair -- but in some cases social media provides the smoking gun (with the helpful tag "LOL hey I'm cheating!").

In one case a woman in Maine was seeking to divorce her husband, a supposedly recovered alcoholic, because she suspected he was drinking again -- which he denied. A mutual friend directed her to her husband's Facebook page, where she found recent photographs of him drinking beer at a party. Case closed: sir, you are a dumbass.

In another case in North Carolina, the divorce lawyer was able to prove that man was cheating on his wife after discovering a suspicious post from a younger female co-worker on his Facebook wall. The gavel rings out again: dumb, du-dumb-dumb DUMB.

In a third case from Tennessee, a woman found the Facebook profile of someone she suspected of being "the other woman," where she discovered an entire public photo album of the woman with her husband on romantic vacations, etc., etc. Putting on my Dashiell Hammett fedora, this sounds like a devious ploy by the other woman to break up the marriage. That, or it's just a case of flagrant, nay, blinding stupidity.

I'm not out there rooting for the cheaters, but I'm inclined to think a lot of these "gotcha" moments are low-hanging fruit for investigators, resulting more from widespread naivete about social media and privacy than real stupidity (despite the examples cited above). As people become more savvy about controlling personal information online, there will actually be less of these cases over time. Or maybe not: never underestimate the human capacity to behave like an idiot.

3 comments about "Social Media: Divorce Attorney's New Smoking Gun".
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  1. Frank Reed from Marketing Pilgrim, June 2, 2010 at 9:58 a.m.

    dumb du dumb dumb .... DUMB! That was very funny.

    As for the folks who do this kind of stuff? Stupid is as stupid does I suppose. Anything like social media will eventually bring out the best and the worst of the human condition. People have been saying and doing dumb things forever. Now we just get the chance to see it digitized and recorded for all to see and share.

    I can't decide if that is a good or a bad thing........

  2. Jerry Foster from Energraphics, June 3, 2010 at 2:46 a.m.

    If marriage is going to last as an institution men want to get into, the Supreme Court is going to have to shut down the Divorce Lawyer Industry by declaring that nobody should have to suffer financially for not having committed direct physical harm against a former spouse (transferred AIDS, disfigured a nose).

    One would assume these bozos wanted to get caught but the penalty for having done what they did should have only been watching their wives cry or kick them out of the house (which she should not necessarily get to keep in the divorce and, in any case, certainly not because he'd been unfaithful).

  3. Jerry Foster from Energraphics, June 3, 2010 at 2:49 a.m.

    When men take their vows in the USA, they never actually say "I understand that, if I cheat, I can suffer the worst financial repercussions imaginable and I agree to that in advance". But they may as well say this out loud at the ceremony for all to hear because that is the current Divorce 2.0 system they are entering into.

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