A story from Indiana recently went viral on the Internet. It was about a woman who created a fake Facebook profile to befriend her ex-husband, David Voelkert, and get “dirt” on him to use in the couple’s custody battle. The woman thought she struck gold when her ex-husband told his new “friend” that he had been tracking his ex-wife by planting a GPS on her car.
Of course, hiding a GPS on someone’s car and tracking them is illegal (if you’re a private citizen). Federal agents arrested Mr. Voelkert and held him for four days; however, Mr. Voelkert was released after convincing the agents the truth behind his messages: to simply freak his ex-wife out. Apparently, Mr. Voelkert knew from the get-go that his new “friend” was actually a fake account having something to do with his ex-wife.
In retrospect, Mr. Voelkert probably wishes he would’ve simply ignored his ex’s attempt to trick him. However, this situation brings up interesting questions: how can Facebook, twitter, email, and other social web-services be implicated in divorce or custody proceedings?
As a Jacksonville Child Custody Lawyer, I know all to well, that sites like Facebook can either make or break your case. For example, if your ex-husband says he can’t afford to make child-support payments, Facebook posts from his new girlfriend might show all the expensive new gifts he’s giving her. This can help convince the court that your ex actually can afford those payments. On the other hand, if you’re the ex-husband, perhaps those “expensive gifts” were actually just hand-me-downs or cheap knockoffs. That fact might be difficult to convince the court (not to mention your girlfriend).
The moral of the story is this: If you don’t want your ex to see something, don’t post it online. Even if it is something you want your ex to see (perhaps a vindictive message in a moment of anger), you probably shouldn’t post it if it’s something that can be used against you later. In other words, if you’re going through some sort of court dispute (whether it’s a family proceeding or not), you should keep your comments to yourself. What you say on the Internet can, and probably will, be used against you.