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Divorce Briefs: Tame Your Social Media Use and The Worst States for Divorce

January 27, 2015, by Law Offices of James V. Sansone

facebook-divorces-united-kingdom-2012.jpgThere was an interesting article in Forbes the other day about the increasing importance social media posts play in litigation.

The article pointed to a 2009 case, People v. Franco, in which a jury convicted Franco of vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence.

Threat on Facebook Has Deadly Consequences

In this case, Franco posted on her Facebook page: "If you find me on the freeway and you can keep up I have a really bad habit of racing random people."

The next day, Franco was traveling 75 miles an hour on a freeway when Henry Chavez started to tailgate her. Whenever she changed lanes, he followed her.

Franco testified that she noticed that her speed was increasing so she tapped on her brakes to slow down, ostensibly to avoid getting a ticket. Not expecting her to brake, Chavez veered to avoid a collision with Franco, lost control of his vehicle and died.

This case is a reminder to everyone that what you say on social media, and especially Facebook, can and will be used against you in court.

In fact, what you post on social media can replace the official story you tell a judge in court.

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Elonis Case Tests Boundaries of Social Media Use

December 9, 2014, by Law Offices of James V. Sansone

socialmediaapps.jpgCan you vent anger about your ex-spouse on Facebook, quote song lyrics that appear threatening, and get away with it?

That is the issue before the Supreme Court of the United States.

After Anthony Elonis's wife left him, took their children and secured a restraining order, Elonis decided to share lyrics from an Eminem song on Facebook and direct his post toward his ex-wife.

One interpretation is that he was simply venting his anger. However, his employer decided it didn't want an employee who threatened people on Facebook and fired him.

Four years ago, a jury convicted Elonis of violating 18 U.S.C. Section 875.(c), which criminalizes interstate transmission of communications that threaten to injure another person. (The Facebook post is considered an interstate transmission.)

The jury in that case sentenced Elonis to 44 months of prison and three years probation.

But was Elonis using Eminem lyrics to threaten his wife? Or was he merely expressing his frustration in general? That's what the Supreme Court will need to decide.

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Prenuptial Agreements Are 0n the Rise

Premarital Agreement.jpgYou survived your divorce and as you signed the final documents you thought to yourself, "I'll never get married again."

Then you met someone new and you're convinced this marriage will be different.
Unfortunately, the statistics indicate that the divorce rate is higher for second marriages so if you're thinking of remarrying, call your attorney to draft a prenuptial agreement.

What Is a Prenuptial Agreement?

As divorce rates rise, so do prenuptial agreements. The American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers says about three-quarters of its members have seen an increase in prenups in the past five years among couples of all income brackets.

A prenuptial agreement is an agreement between two parties that protects their respective pre-marital financial interests, such as retirement funds, properties owned, investments, savings, and other financial interests.

In addition, a prenuptial agreement will record debt. This is important because if the marriage should end in divorce, you will want to be protected from your spouse's credit card debt, college loans, and default mortgage payments.

Child custody arrangements and child support can't be determined in a prenup but you can specify your preferred religious education for your children.

Reasons to Negotiate a Prenuptial Agreement

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How Facebook Can Impact Your Santa Rosa Divorce - And What You Can Do About It

tumblr_lyta07HSMP1qzh0vno1_500-485x322.jpgAre you among the 1 billion people worldwide with a Facebook account? If you are in the midst of a divorce, you may want to deactivate it.

More than 80% of U.S. divorce attorneys say they've seen a rise in the number of cases in which lawyers use social media posts as a reason to question child custody, spousal support, and other contentious issues.

Increasingly, courts also are examining Facebook for evidence. In September of 2011, a Connecticut judge ordered the attorneys for Stephen and Courtney Gallion to exchange "their client's Facebook and dating website passwords."

Facebook: Where Friends Can Become Lovers

When people tire of or don't find success in using Eharmony, they may shift to Facebook for "social dating." A rising number of people use Facebook to reignite friendships with high school and college flames, and take the relationships further than they'd intended.

Some predict that Facebook's new Graph Search - a search engine capability similar to Google that will soon be released - will make it even easier for former college flames to hook up. For example, when Graph Search is released you'll be able to search for single friends of your best friend and find new people to "friend" and date.

Of course, suspicious spouses also use Facebook to find evidence of flirting and affairs.

In cases where spouses still live together and share the same computer, a number of monitoring devices can be downloaded to monitor another person's Web use, such as SpectorPro, which monitors keystrokes, screenshots and a variety of social media networks.

6 Social Media Tips to Adopt During Your Divorce

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Is Facebook Safe? It might Not Be for Your Teen

February 12, 2013, by Law Offices of James V. Sansone

internetSafety3_frame.jpgIn 2008, the Illinois legislature enacted a law authored by state Sen. John Waterman barring most registered sex offenders from using Facebook or other social networking sites. The law was challenged and upheld by a district court in June 2012.

Displeased with that court's decision, the ACLU of Indiana filed an appeal. The 7th U.S. Circuit of Appeals in Chicago in late January overturned the lower court's decision and ruled that the Indiana law was unconstitutional.

Sen. Waterman has stated he will pursue new measures to protect children online from the dangers of sexual predators.

Sex Offenders Fight Back

Sex offenders have organized legal battles, fighting for their right to be online. They were successful in February 2012 when a federal judge in Louisiana struck down a state law barring sex offenders from using Facebook and other social media on First Amendment grounds.

Efforts to restrict sex offenders across the U.S. seem to reach the same obstacle.

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Facebook Evidence in A Santa Rosa Divorce: Five Tips for Protecting Yourself

November 6, 2012, by Law Offices of James V. Sansone

social media.jpgA 2010 survey conducted by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (AAML) concluded that 81 percent of divorce attorneys had seen an increase in the use of social media as evidence -- with Facebook topping the charts at 66 percent. In the more than two years since the disquieting AAML survey, Facebook has grown to 955 million monthly active users. Chances are your spouse and the friends and family of your spouse use Facebook.

I have made it no secret, Facebook is the first place I go when I get a family law case. I have been able to get very favorable results in court based on the opposing party's Facebook posts. However, I have also had clients hurt by their posts. identifies the following five tips for Facebook use during your divorce.

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Contents of MySpace Page Are Sufficient To Establish Its Authenticity

December 20, 2011, by Law Offices of James V. Sansone

online-social-networking-2-320x200.jpgGenerally in court, documentary evidence such as records, letters, bills, contracts, and similar writings have to be authenticated or identified before being admitted in evidence as genuine.

In today's society, information obtained on social networking websites is being used in court as evidence against the party who made the post.

This seemed to have begged the question, how do you properly authenticate a social networking post? That question has been answered in People vs. Valdez.

In Valdez, supra, a jury convicted Vincent Julian Valdez, Jr., of two counts of attempted murder, four counts of assault with a firearm, and two counts of street terrorism (Pen. Code, § 186.22, subd. (a)), arising from two separate drive-by shootings. Valdez asserts challenges to the sufficiency of the evidence to support his conviction of street terrorism by arguing that the trial court erroneously admitted pages from his MySpace social networking site that included his gang moniker ("Yums"), a photograph of him making a gang hand signal, and written notations including "T.L.F.," "YUM $ YUM," "T.L.F.'s '63 Impala," "T.L.F., The Most Wanted Krew by the Cops and Ladiez," and "Yums. You Don't Wanna F wit[h] this Guy."

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Divorced Dad's Blog Becomes A Test for the First Amendment

images.jpgA Pennsylvania man is claiming a judge violated his freedom of speech and his right to due process by ordering him to shut down, a blog he began in 2007 to discuss his bitter divorce and child custody battle.

Back in November 2010, I wrote a blog entry entitled Social Networking Sites Such as Facebook and MySpace Can Be Your Ex Partner's Worst Nightmare. This latest on-line blog appears to be the next step in using a person's on-line statements or persona against them.

In any case I am retained on, especially family law, the first thing I do is run an on-line search in an attempt to locate anything that can possibly be used against the opposing party. Time and time again, this has proven to be an invaluable tool I use to attack the creditability of the opposing party. As an example, I am currently involved in a child support dispute case wherein the opposing party, the mother, has an on-line employment profile where she calls herself a "liar" and declares that the cause that is most important to her is to "increase alimony two fold." Win, lose, or draw, this is a tool to attack her creditability, since a large part of her claim heavily rests on her word, I hope to show her word is worthless.

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Social Networking Sites Such as Facebook and MySpace Can Be Your Ex Partner's Worst Nightmare

November 25, 2010, by Law Offices of James V. Sansone

Being to open on social networks has led to a surplus of evidence in divorce cases.  Studies have shown throughout the United States that a growing number of family law attorneys have used or faced evidence pulled from Facebook, MySpace, Twitter and other social networking sites, including YouTube and LinkedIn, over the last five years.  About one in five adults uses Facebook for flirting, according to a 2008 report by the Pew Internet and American Life Project.

I litigated a child custody case last year where I was able to use a father's adult advertisement on MySpace to obtain a custody order that was very favorable to my client.

So the next time you post something on a social network site, you should ask yourself at least one question, whose watching?