Courts in the 21st Century have fought to keep up with the communication revolution that is social media. It has proved important for Courts to be au fait with social media sites such as Facebook, Linkedin and Twitter. News reports illustrate that Facebook has actually been a contributory factor in many divorces and that it is mentioned in one out of every five divorce petitions. A person’s use of social media sites can also have unforeseen consequences in resolving the financial aspects of a divorce, as Facebook and Twitter are sometimes now used by divorce Lawyers to help track hidden wealth.
As Byron James of 14 Gray’s Inn Square considers:
‘What of the person who claims no holidays but has recent pictures on their profile showing them abroad; the person who claims to have no assets of worth and is pictured driving an expensive car or boat; or a person who claims not to be cohabiting with anyone, only for Facebook to be proudly contradicting the same through an (ill judged) relationship status?’
Such sneaky spouses will be alarmed to find out that English Law can give Court Orders precedence over normal privacy laws when fraud is suspected. It is becoming increasingly common for Judges to grant Court Orders which enable Lawyers to access people’s Facebook and Twitter accounts where one party is suspected of hiding assets such as in fraud or financial divorce cases. Mr Philippsohn, a fraud and asset recovery specialist has said: “The mass of personal information online has made it easier for people to get caught out by their partners or husbands and wives doing things they shouldn’t and it has made our job much easier too…Cases where we are retaining and retrieving assets have improved substantially.”
Perhaps people think that posting and tweeting information on social media sites is lost in the realms of cyber space or protected by privacy laws, untouchable by a Court of Law. Perhaps now they will think again, before posting in haste.
A lesson for us all is that once your post is out there, it is out there for good, for better or for worse…
0113 227 9233