On behalf of Kristina Voorhies Legan at Kristina Voorhies Legan
Social media is becoming a more popular tool for uncovering hidden assets
As the Washington Times recently reported, Facebook is now being cited in a third of all divorce cases. Given that people today spend so much time on social media, it should hardly be surprising that Facebook and similar websites are having a growing impact on family law cases. For many couples, however, the role social media plays in their divorce also has a lasting impact well beyond when the initial divorce papers are filed. In fact, especially when it comes to dividing property, social media can have a surprising and significant effect.
In Texas, as in all other states, full financial disclosure is required of both spouses during a divorce. Such disclosure ensures that the property a couple has built up over the course of their marriage can be split fairly and equitably by a court. Of course, while it may be a crime to conceal assets, the fact is that all too often one ex-spouse will try to mislead both the court and a former partner about his or her financial position.
Hidden assets are hardly new to family law. Both in the past and today, ex-spouses have found various methods of concealing assets. Such methods can include using a business expense account to hide personal expenses, “lending” significant assets to friends or family members, or doing cash jobs that go unreported to the IRS.
What has changed in recent years is that people who believe an ex-spouse is hiding assets now have more resources at hand to help uncover those assets. Social media now plays a big role in discovering hidden assets. When investigating such potential financial misconduct, investigators often look for discrepancies between a person’s lifestyle and his or her declared income.
For example, an ex-husband who is claiming he cannot afford to provide his former wife with spousal support, but then posts pictures of his recent Caribbean vacation is bound to raise some suspicions. It’s also important to note that even when social media posts are deleted, they may still have been preserved by either a former spouse or a mutual friend of both spouses through a screen-grab. As Forbes points out, anything that is posted online, including emails and private chats, should be considered public as they could eventually end up before a judge.
With the world of family law changing so quickly, people with their own divorce and related concerns will want to rely on expert help during the process. An experienced family law attorney can help anybody currently in the midst of a divorce understand what options are available to them and how best to react to every step of their divorce case. Such assistance will not only provide greater peace of mind, but it can help protect a client’s interests and assets during what is an otherwise difficult time.