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Friday
Jan302015

Hitting the Wall: Facebook and Divorce

Divorce LawyerChild Custody and Support Attorney

by Vanessa Soto Nellis
818.907.3274

 

A new survey sponsored by a group in the UK links Facebook to 33 percent of all divorces, up from a 2009 study that cites the social media site in 20 percent of divorce filings.

Facebook and DivorceFacebook can serve as a conduit for people reuniting with old flames or meeting new partners. Spouses get concerned when they realize their significant others are spending more time online, getting texts in the middle of the night, or are suddenly very possessive of their phones, tablets and computers.

But whether or not Facebook is actually a cause of divorce remains to be seen – it could be that people who are unhappy in their relationships log in to social media sites more often as a means of escape, or to seek advice or emotional support.

Social Media & Grounds For Divorce

Since California is a no fault divorce state, spending more time online or engaging in virtual or actual affairs is not necessarily relevant in the eyes of a Family Law Court.

What many divorce lawyers can use however, is evidence from Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms that show a soon-to-be ex-spouse is not fully disclosing financial assets, which could affect the equitable distribution of property or financial liability.

Social media posts can also show when someone is engaging in behavior that could affect custody proceedings. Photos can help prove a case for bad parenting, or instability at home.  They can also show when an individual is being dishonest about a need to change visitation schedules, i.e. if a parent claims a need to work late when s/he is really out at a concert, or checking in to a club or restaurant.

"Unfriending" or blocking an ex doesn't necessarily give a Facebook user more privacy, as married couples tend to have many mutual friends online and offline. In most breakups, some of those friends will choose sides when a couple divorces – and are perfectly willing to provide information regarding the activities and posts to one party or the other.

Additionally, they may put photos and relate activities on their own walls and feeds, unwittingly providing a wealth of information for the opposing party and their attorneys.

These are examples of the information that can be found online by just about anyone. But what about data that seems to be hidden, or deleted?

Digital Discovery through Cyber Forensics

Divorce Cyber Forensics

Every now and then a spouse makes a more serious attempt to hide information critical to divorce proceedings and settlements. In that case, divorce attorneys may hire a digital forensics expert.

Through forensics, digital discovery can reveal time stamps of activity and: 

  • Call logs and SIM card data

  • Text messages and emails

  • Calendar entries

  • Photos and videos

  • Visits to pornography sites

  • Usernames and passwords

  • Financial transfers, purchases and other monetary transactions

  • Encrypted,  damaged or temporary file information

Remember that even if someone tries to destroy their electronic devices, some data can still be retrieved through cyber forensics. Moreover, an attempt to destroy evidence can be used to bolster the opposing party's case.

Vanessa Soto Nellis is a Certified Specialist in Family Law, designated by the State Bar of California Board of Legal Specialization. Contact her via email: vnellis@lewitthackman.com or by phone: 818.907.3274. 

Disclaimer:
This Blog/Web Site is made available by the lawyer or law firm publisher for educational purposes only, to provide general information and a general understanding of the law, not to provide specific legal advice. By using this blog site you understand there is no attorney client relationship between you and the Blog/Web Site publisher. The Blog/Web Site should not be used as a substitute for obtaining legal advice from a licensed professional attorney in your state.

Wednesday
Jan022013

Spousal Support | How to Find Hidden Assets

Encino Tarzana Divorce LawyerDivorce Lawyer

 

 

by Vanessa Soto Nellis
818.907.3274

San Fernando Valley Custody Lawyer Los Angeles

 

 

When it comes to spousal support, bitter feelings sometimes prompt people to take negative action. In order to lash out or get back, some spouses will attempt to hide assets or refuse to fully disclose the value of them.

And sometimes, people just forget. (Check out my last blog, Divorce and Money – Overlooked Assets, to get an idea of what you should be looking for in this situation.)

In either case, an experienced divorce attorney can help. You and your spouse will need to draw a complete financial picture of your community and separate property so your attorneys can divide your assets properly.

 

Protecting Your Interests During the Division of Assets Process

 

So what are the most common ways for your spouse to hide funds or property? The most common is collusion – your spouse's efforts to conspire with others to hide money. Opportunities for collusion can come through:

  1. Business: Your spouse may ask an employer to delay payments on bonuses or raises until after your divorce. If your spouse owns a business, s/he could pay salary to an employee who doesn't exist, report purchases for services, equipment or supplies that never get delivered, inflate expenses, or temporarily turn down contracts in an effort to reduce annual earnings. 

  2. Family Members: If blood is thicker than a sense of ethics, your spouse's family could be holding cash, physical assets and other items. They could also be the recipients of a hefty "loan" which won't be paid back until after your divorce. 

  3. Friends: Is your spouse suddenly close to a new friend? A girlfriend or boyfriend may be helping to hide assets. Social media can be helpful in uncovering the truth, and remember that it is important to maintain active relationships with your own friends and family to help in this effort. Now is not the time to withdraw socially, you need to be alert and engaged, especially if you don't trust your spouse to be honest about finances.

Your divorce attorney will know good forensic accountants who can help find hidden assets, especially if your soon-to-be ex owns a business. The key is for you to be proactive in this situation. Stay organized and alert, and you'll minimize the financial consequences of your divorce.

 

Vanessa Soto Nellis is a Divorce and Divorce Mediation Attorney with 10 years' experience at our Firm. Contact her via email: vnellis@lewitthackman.com.

Disclaimer:
This Blog/Web Site is made available by the lawyer or law firm publisher for educational purposes only, to provide general information and a general understanding of the law, not to provide specific legal advice. By using this blog site you understand there is no attorney client relationship between you and the Blog/Web Site publisher. The Blog/Web Site should not be used as a substitute for obtaining legal advice from a licensed professional attorney in your state.

 

 

 

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