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Friend or Foe: Who is following you on Facebook?

Those engaged in the divorce process know how it's possible to feel alone when surrounded by others. Acrimonious meetings between spouses paired with legal representatives may span hours. Divvying up assets and property may prove exhausting. Those who are successful know when to compromise and when to become adamant. Those who aren't adept in articulating their wishes expend more energy and emotions. Although the discussions and debates take place with an audience of attorneys and an antagonistic spouse, most people are likely to feel isolated in this company.

It is for this reason, that when they are home alone, those engaged in divorce proceedings seek comfort from others. Years ago, individuals in need of solace picked up the phone for a chat. Today, social media addresses the needs of those requiring rapid relief. The benefits of using outlets such as Facebook or Instagram are well-documented. The efficiency and effectiveness in updating one's emotional or financial status are the reasons these corporations are flush with followers.

Whether these followers are friends or foes may not be revealed until divorce proceedings are over. In maintaining a social media presence during divorce proceedings, those posting need to realize that their updates may imperil their bargaining power in property or asset division. Divorce attorneys count on the tendency of stressed individuals to use social media to seek out consolation. Each post provided penalizes the author because these updates are admissible in court. Courts have ruled that such communications are transmitted without an expectation of privacy, even for those with selective privacy settings.

In the eyes of a divorce attorney, Facebook holds a mother lode of information. In a poll conducted by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, lawyers questioned revealed that Facebook was the first site they'd search for evidence to support their client's case. 66 percent of them said that they used information they'd found on Facebook. The details found online could include pictures that revealed an illicit relationship, undisclosed assets or impaired judgment. For those fighting for spousal support or child custody, these details can jettison an individual's chances of receiving what has been requested.

In situations where the stakes are high, such a dispute over parenting or property rights, it's best to eschew the online experience and receive consolation on a coffee break. While less efficient than turning to social media, this low-tech relief leaves no data treasure trove for a divorce attorney to mine.

Those concerned about the impact of their social media presence on their case are advised to seek counsel of a knowledgeable attorney.

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