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Divorce and the implications of an online footprint

Time-honored advice to a client in Florida or elsewhere from an experienced divorce attorney certainly includes the admonition to refrain from any questionable conduct that can catch the public's eye and cast doubts on parental judgment and abilities.

With the rapidly evolving technology that now so centrally defines our world, that increasingly means paying attention to the Internet -- especially social media sites -- and what is commonly termed a person's or family's "online profile." Disputes concerning online postings and images have become commonplace in divorce proceedings and following divorce among ex-partners, ranging from matters involving child custody and visitation to child support and alimony.

"Social media has become a very big issue in all aspects of divorce," says Alton Abramowitz, the president of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers. Abramowitz counsels his clients to simply eliminate their media presence -- their online footprint -- to the fullest extent possible if they are contemplating divorce.

Many commentators in this area strongly suggest that social media and profiles be part of virtually every divorce discussion, with couples fully understanding the implications and working out an arrangement that meets with everyone's approval. Some parents, for example, want pictures of their kids on Facebook, while others strongly object to that for security and other reasons.

Some family law counselors have even suggested that the parameters of social media use, with the central role and growing relevance that social media sites are playing in the lives of many American families, be explicitly included in every parenting plan.

Source: St. Louis Post-Dispatch, "Who gets custody of the Facebook profile info after a divorce?" Aisha Sultan, Dec. 31, 2012

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