66% of divorce attorneys gather evidence from the Facebook pages of the soon-to-be ex-spouses of their clients. 81% draw from Facebook, My Space, Twitter, You Tube and LinkedIn.
I work with many who are going through the stressful and painful process of divorce. If I’ve said it once, I’ll say it again, “Never put anything on the internet that could be used against you. Never write an email, a text, leave a phone message in any way that could be used against you.” I’m also careful to include the social network sites that so many adults participate in.
Despite my strong encouragement, my words typically fall on deaf ears. Despite the abundance of information about how NOT private Facebook is, many adults post status updates, relationship statuses and general information that can be seen by virtually anyone on the planet who has access to a computer and the Internet.
--Soon to be divorced father goes on Match.com boasting of his single, CHILDLESS status while seeking primary custody of his supposedly nonexistent children.
--Soon to be divorced mother swears in court that she does not smoke marijuana, but posts on Facebook pictures of her partying and pot-smoking.
How old are these people? And more importantly, how naïve?
For myself, I’m not really interested in the legal aspects of Facbook because I’d like to think I would never be that stupid or brazen, but I see these inappropriate disclosures on Facebook on a regular basis.
My mid-life clients will be dating others and the relationship hits a rocky road. Suddenly, my client finds a lot of unfavorable things being written about them on their ex’s Wall and there’s not a whole thing they can do about it. Their impulse is to write something equally nasty back on their Facebook wall and the next thing you know, all junior high school petty hell has broken loose.
The one that kills me most is the relationship status, “It’s complicated.” I hate it when I see people with that as their relationship status. I become nosey and curious. I want to know the scoop and suddenly have an urgent need-to-know what the heck is so complicated. And then I don't like myself for being like this.
I cringe when parents who are single put “It’s Complicated" as their relationship status because I know they have “friended” their children. Do their offspring really need to know that their love relationships are complicated and messy?
I had a friend recently put on his Facebook status that he was engaged in a new business that could land him in jail for years. I also saw that his teenage children were his “friends”. When I questioned the wisdom of this obvious overshare, he shrugged his shoulders and said, “Oh that doesn’t bother them.” Really?
A good friend and attorney told me many years ago to never write an email, leave a voice mail, text a message, write a post that I didn’t imagine that everyone in the entire planet could read.
The divorce attorneys are taking this to a whole new level and I can’t say that I blame them. But as a family therapist, I get to try to help my clients clean up the messes of their lurid exposes, or even better, avoid them altogether.
I don’t care about the attorneys, the attorneys are being attorneys. I care about the children in these families. Hundreds of them are being exposed on a daily basis to the goings on of their suddenly single parents. I once sat in my office listening to a teenage kid lecture their father about how embarrassing his Facebook page was to him.
The parents should be ashamed of themselves. It’s a wacky world when kids are becoming parental with their parents.
Too bad these kids don’t have the power to ground them and take their computers away for a month. Or even better, give them a good old-fashioned spanking.