Court Compels Husband to Disclose Facebook Account in Divorce

Posted August 8, 2011 in Your Family & The Law by Arthur Buono

Social networking plays a starring role in a lot of lawsuits, especially divorce. Now a divorce case from Pennsylvania shows the limits of privacy controls. A court will order spouses to disclose social networking accounts in divorce cases.

  • Facebook, other social networks, factor in lawsuits
  • Privacy vanishes when court orders disclosure
  • If there’s incriminating information about you online, someone will find it
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No Private Communications Privilege in Facebook Account


Strong privacy settings are of course your first line of defense against fraud and identity theft. Even so, what you put on your account will come back to haunt you, and at the worst possible moment. As we saw Friday, this might be when your employer or prospective employer asks for (demands) access to your account.

Or it might be when your spouse files for divorce (or responds to your filing). Once a lawsuit starts, the parties are entitled to have "discovery" of evidence. This means both sides must respond to questions about what evidence exists that can affect the outcome of the case.

Exceptions exist. But there’s no general "privacy" privilege that applies to your Facebook posts or relationships, even though you’ve wired your privacy settings to limit this information to your friends. This makes sense too though. Ordinarily privileges, like attorney-client and spousal communications, are waived if you share the communications with anyone else. The solution? Don’t put it out there to begin with.

Related Apps for Your Smartphone*

The Knot – mobile wedding checklist. Registration required
Divorce Apps "Cost & Prep" – are you ready to break the big news to your spouse? Maybe check all the hidden costs first. $.99

*Please note that these apps are for informational purposes only, and neither LexisNexis nor endorses these apps or accepts liability for their use.

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