The link between gumshoes and divorce lawyers soon may be a thing of the past because of the proclivity of Americans to broadcast their lives on Facebook and MySpace. Divorce lawyers are turning from private investigators to computers to get the goods on straying spouses, The New York Times
Social networks have “changed the way we do business,” Fort Worth, Texas, matrimonial lawyer Gary Nickelson told the Times. “Before, we would hire private investigators, have opposing spouses followed, try to interview acquaintances and friends. We would strive forever to get evidence, and now people can’t wait to post on MySpace or Facebook who they are out drinking with. We just come along and scoop that up.”
The practice of trolling the Internet for evidence is becoming so prevalent that bar associations have been conducting workshops on it. A survey released last year by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers revealed that 81 percent of its 1,600 members had used information plucked from social networks in the past five years, the Times reported.
Divorce lawyers also are mining YouTube videos, text messages, Global Positioning System receivers and E-ZPass records. New York lawyer Alton Abramowitz told the Times he used E-ZPass records to show that a woman who had accused her husband of beating her was actually crossing the George Washington Bridge at the precise time of the alleged beating.
American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers President Linda Lea Viken said, “Facebook has become an open book of people’s lives. They write things as though they were having a conversation with one friend, so they say the most outrageous and private things. You can’t get better evidence than what comes from their own mouths or their own computers,” the Times reported.
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