Today, people are keenly aware that the internet is a repository for senstive personal information. Whenever a person uses the internet – whether for banking, Facebook, Amazon, email, or Google Chat – that person creates an electronic profile for which information is retained, often indefinitely. Despite the public’s awareness of the permanency and lack of privacy of internet information, people often unwittingly continue to create caches of senstive information on websites, which could be used against them in divorce cases.
A recent American Association of Matrimonial Lawyers survey, reported by PRNewswire, shows that more than half of the nation’s preeminent divorce attorneys have observed a rise in the use of evidence drawn from internet dating websites in divorce cases. According to the survey, the most common types of evidence drawn from dating websites include users’ relationship status, salary and occupation, and parental status. Because internet website users are often tempted to embellish, or even falsify, information on their dating website profiles, this information may be used by an opposing party to challenge the veracity of a website user’s testimony and undercut their divorce or child custody case.
Although internet dating websites may offer a convenient method for people to meet singles and move on with their lives, the permanency of internet information means that dating website users may ultimately be called to answer for representations they make online, both in their instant divorce cases and, possibly, post-divorce matters that may be litigated in the future.
Hayden O. Lee, Esquire