Facebook, Infidelity, and Court

An interesting article appeared in SmartMoney today, entitled “Does Facebook Wreck Marriages? This short article examines whether social media–and Facebook in particular–put marriages at risk of affairs.

Author Quentin Fottrell identifies three dangers. First, users who would otherwise remain faithful to their spouses can easily become tempted by the people they interact with online. “The social network is different from most social networks or dating sites in that it both re-connects old flames and allows people to “friend” someone they may only met once in passing.”

Second, even if an affair was not caused by social media, Facebook may lull users into a false sense of security, where they feel safe to post information that might tip off a significant other. “It could be something as innocuous as a check-in at a restaurant, he says, or a photograph posted online.”

Finally, when couples find themselves in divorce court–whether there was an affair or not–information from social media can and will be used as evidence to determine child support, alimony, and even custody. The article quotes attorney Randy Kessler, the current chairman of the family law section of the American Bar Association, that “any pattern of behavior that’s recorded on Facebook relating to parenting skills, excessive partying or even disparaging remarks about a spouse that violates a court order could be admissible in court.”

I encourage you to read the entire article, and to exercise extreme caution in your social media activities.

Divorce in the News: Stay-at-Home Parents Are At Financial Risk During Divorce

A very interesting article in the Huffington Post this morning, written by divorce lawyer Beverly Willett, entitled, “Are Stay-At-Home Parents At Financial Risk During Divorce?“  Willett writes,

In practical terms, if the breadwinner leaves, the first risk faced is lack of immediate access to funds. Even if you have a joint bank account, your spouse might decide to open a new one in which to deposit paychecks. Joint stock or savings accounts may require joint approval for withdrawals. This could leave stay-at-home parents hostage for money until they are able to secure a temporary order of support as well as funds with which to defend themselves. For that, they’ll undoubtedly need to hire an attorney and pay a retainer, unless the lawyer is willing to wait.

Indeed, the non-working spouse is at the greatest risk when the divorce was not anticipated.  Unfortunately, most states have adopted no-fault divorce grounds, permitting one spouse to the union to seek divorce unilaterally, regardless of the other spouse’s wishes.  In Colorado, the cause of the breakup of the marriage is not admissible in the divorce.  Courts will not consider which spouse is at fault when weighing how to divide property “equitably.”  The benefits the innocent spouse expected to receive from the continuation of the marriage are not deemed relevant, even when it comes to the award of spousal maintenance.  Willett continues,

The financial risk stay-at-home parents face when it comes to alimony is even more troubling. When no-fault was instituted, permanent alimony awarded to spouses who had given up their careers to become stay-at-home parents began to fall out of favor, permanent alimony being deemed incompatible with the clean break idea behind no-fault.

Read the entire article.

For the time being, Colorado does make provision for spousal maintenance, otherwise known as alimony.  If you are an innocent spouse or stay-at-home parent, call the Law Office of Kirk Garner to set up a consultation to discuss your eligibility to receive alimony.