Privacy and Divorce Proceedings

It may be tempting to use creative methods to discover information about your ex-partner when you are involved in divorce proceedings. You might feel compelled to peek at your former spouse’s e-mail or their Facebook. Some of this may be permissible, but others may have both federal and state criminal implications. It’s important to consult with an attorney about your right to information and your spouse’s right to privacy.

Privacy and Social Media

Federal wiretapping and eavesdropping laws have strong prohibitions against recording other people’s private telephone conversations or intercepting electronic communications. These laws do not contain clear provisions for social media technology, which can be a rich source of information for any family law cases (especially when the case involves custody and visitation disputes). Providing documentation of a spouse posting a racy photo or making disparaging comments to the court may be helpful.

False Facebook Pages

Many family law attorneys agree that just viewing your spouse’s social media site does not violate Federal or state laws. If you are still a “friend” of your spouse on Facebook, or if your spouse’s page is not protected for privacy purposes and is public, and thus have access to view his or her “page” you may be able to present print outs from public postings in court. But many divorce attorneys also agree that obtaining access to your spouse’s Facebook account by creating a false profile page is not permissible. You must have knowing consent from your spouse to use information discovered on his or her Facebook page during a divorce proceeding.

Exchanging Passwords

If you and your spouse have exchanged passwords to private social media websites, you might be allowed to introduce evidence discovered from that exchange. Installing software that allows you to obtain passwords to protected sites and obtain information this way may subject you to both criminal and civil penalties.

You should consult your attorney before engaging in any questionable conduct because there are not set rules for these potential violations.