Facebook and Divorce: the new AAML Study and the Need to Know Client Web Chatter

The American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers just released its latest study -- and it's fascinating. Seems that 81% of top divorce lawyers in this country report that since 2005, they've experienced an increase in family law (divorce) cases using social networking evidence.

And by "social networking evidence," they mean Facebook.

Facebook, according to the divorce attorneys responding to the AAML survey, was the source of this divorce case evidence 66% of the time.  (Tweets on Twitter became evidence in only 5% of the lawsuits.)

Apparently, savvy divorce lawyers are checking the Facebook pages of both petitioner and respondent, and more likely than not, they're discovering useful information there.  Specific case examples weren't provided with the survey, but it's easy enough to imagine the kinds of things that "social networking evidence" involves. 

This impacts more than family law matters, of course.

Looks like savvy attorneys in lots of cases other than family law matters should be - and probably already are - checking social media sites for possible evidence to use in a variety of matters.  Defense attorneys in personal injury matters will be reading social media for evidence of fraudulent personal injury claims.  Personal injury attorneys will be reading social media for evidence of advance warning of product defects.  You get the idea. 

Now, savvy law firms will be looking not only at entering Web 2.0 (social media) for their own marketing purposes, but they'll be surfing around Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, etc. as part of their standard discovery practices, as well. 

Looks like the need for law firms to master social media just became a lot more clearer to lots of folk.


Family Law Portal said...

It's amazing how much social media is being used in family law. In Australia, it's estimated that photos/comments from social media are being used to discredit people in 20% of Family Court proceedings. In the UK, a spouse’s behaviour on Facebook is now cited in a third of UK divorces in which unreasonable behaviour was a factor. Unfortunately, social media's impact on family law does not stop there - as it’s also now a major tool for divorce-related bullying (e.g. continuing communication, posting nasty messages, hacking accounts, etc). More: Family & The Law (Family Law Portal)

Unknown said...

Hi Family Law Portal,

Great point about the use of social media in divorce-related bullying. Had not thought about this, but I'm sure that angry and belligerent parties in a divorce could (and do) find lots of ways to use social media to vent, intimidate, etc.

It's not every lawyer that can handle the particular added stress that comes from a practice so filled with highly emotional clientele. From a lawyer perspective, what you've pointed out about social media bullying just adds fuel to the emotional client fires that attorneys and their staffs will have to handle.

My hat's off to them, can't ever be easy.

Thanks so much for sharing!