As a divorce attorney on Long Island, I’ve noticed that it’s rare to find a person in today’s society who does not have an account with Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. In the last 10 years especially, social media has become a large part of our lives. Since attending a seminar on electronic discovery in matrimonial proceedings, I thought it was time to remind you of the potential ramifications your social media behavior on your divorce in Nassau County or Suffolk County. As you have likely heard, once you post something on the Internet, you can never get it back and your posts can be used against you in your divorce.
No Expectation of Privacy on Social Media
Because social media sites are public forums, you have little to no expectation of privacy concerning the pictures, statuses, comments or anything else you post on them. That girls’ weekend in Miami or hunting trip in Pennsylvania your friends posted photos of? Your spouse or his or her divorce attorney will see those. While you might not think these posts will have any effect on your case, you could be very wrong, especially in cases where there are tensions involving child support and/or spousal maintenance.
Think about this – your spouse continuously cries poverty and asserts he or she does not have the funds to pay the requisite amount of child support and the financial burden of supporting your children has fallen completely on your shoulders. A few weeks later while online you stumble upon pictures of your spouse driving a brand new BMW or standing outside a beautiful beach house in the Hamptons. How would you feel? Your spouse cannot afford to pay child support but they can afford these luxuries? You are completely mistaken if you think these pictures will not be used as evidence against him or her in your divorce proceeding. Your divorce attorney has a useful tool known as the subpoena in his or her pocket, which will allow the attorney to request records from a third party, including financial documents. And this goes both ways. Be careful what you post online because it can be used against you.
Emails Aren’t As Private As You Think
As a divorce attorney, Long Island’s Robert E. Hornberger, Esq. knows the most important point made at the seminar concerned the use of e-mail to communicate with your attorney. Communications between attorneys and clients that relate to the representation are privileged, but only if the information is communicated outside the presence of strangers. Before e-mail, it was simple to determine if communication was taking place outside the presence of strangers, however it has become a bit more complicated. “Snail mail”, as it has come to be known, is now rarely the sole form of communication used between two people. In fact, most of my clients request I communicate with them via e-mail about important matters.
While email is quicker, what people often do not realize, and what I feel it is my job to point out, are the privacy issues involved. First, you should never use an employer-provided e-email address to communicate with your Long Island divorce attorney, even if you are self-employed. Because your employer, and generally other employees, can access these accounts and servers, it creates the potential risk of losing the attorney/client privilege.
Additionally, do not e-mail your Divorce Attorney from a computer, iPad, or smartphone you share with your spouse or anyone else. If your child plays with the device, make sure it is necessary to enter a separate password before you can access your e-mail on the device. When creating a password, do not use the same word or combination you used during the course of your marriage as this would be easy for your spouse to figure out.
Don’t Let ‘The Cloud’ Rain on Your Parade
Online computer back-up software has become an important part of many people’s lives. Even though most of us don’t understand exactly what “the cloud” is, it has become ingrained in our lives as a way to protect our important files, be they documents, photographs, video or music. With your files backed up to “the cloud”, you no longer need to worry about external hard-drives or transferring all your pictures to a CD-ROM. However, this issue of online backup presents a great concern for Nassau County and Suffolk County divorce attorneys. If your device is hooked up to this type of server, everything — including your emails — may be transferred to it. Other devices connected to your WiFi account may also be able to access the server, in turn gaining access to your otherwise private communications.
As a Divorce Attorney, Long Island’s Robert E. Hornberger Esq. emphasizes that the most valuable advice I can give you regarding your divorce and the Internet is simply “do not do it”. If you need to communicate with your divorce attorney via e-mail, do so from a secure, private account. And remember, nothing on the Internet is every really deleted. Once it’s “out there”, it exists somewhere, even if you delete it.
Have Questions About the Internet & Your Divorce? Your Long Island Divorce Attorney Can Help
Are you concerned about things you may have posted online and how they might affect your divorce? Or, have you seen something your spouse posted and you wonder if it could help your case? The experienced and compassionate divorce attorney, Long Island’s Robert E. Hornberger, Esq., PC can help. Give us a call at 631-923-1910. We’ll do our best to ensure you’re legally protected during your divorce and set you up for the best possible future going forward.
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