Before the explosion of social media, Ken Altshuler, a divorce lawyer in Maine, dug up dirt on his client’s spouses the old-fashioned way: with private investigators and subpoenas. Now the first place his team checks for evidence is Facebook.
Consider a recent story of a female client in her 30s, who came to Altshuler seeking a divorce from husband. She claimed her husband, an alcoholic, was drinking again. The husband denied it. It was her word against his word, Altshuler says, until a mutual friend of the couple stumbled across Facebook photos of the husband drinking beer at a party a few weeks earlier.
It was the kind of “gotcha moment” Altshuler knew would undermine the husband’s credibility in court. His firm presented the photos to the judge, and the wife won the case in April, he said.
“Facebook is a great source of evidence,” Altshuler said. “It’s absolutely solid evidence because he’s the author of it. How do you deny that you put that on?”
Social media stalking skills have become invaluable to the legal world for divorce cases in particular. Online photo albums, profile pages, wall comments, status updates and tweets have become gold mines for evidence and leads. Today, divorce and family law firms routinely cull information posted on social media sites — the flirty exchanges with a paramour, unsavory self-revelations and compromising photographs — to buttress their case.
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