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Important facts regarding social media and your divorce

In one of our previous blog postings, we discussed the likelihood of one spouse using subpoena powers to obtain adverse information about their spouse's social media postings. In that article, we revealed that the social networking company Facebook has taken a rather defensive posture regarding such disclosure.

According to that company's website, a federal statute known as the Stored Communications Act prohibits them from disclosing user content such as photographs, timeline posts and other similar digital data to non-governmental parties in matters litigated in civil court.

Taking a closer look at that statute, here are some of the more important elements that make it very difficult to obtain adverse social media evidence against your spouse:

-- In 1986, the SCA adopted new statutory provisions aimed at ensuring the privacy of stored electronic communications, including those that have not yet been transmitted. In effect, these provisions include all email prior to its delivery and even after it is received.

-- The protection of electronic data storage is a central theme under the SCA. As such, the act treats all forms of electronic communication storage as the same, whether temporary, immediate or long-term backup protection storage.

-- Section 2701 of the SCA specifically includes issues regarding voicemails in addition to email protections.

-- Section 2701(a) of the SCA is intended to curtail the actions of hackers or people engaging in corporate espionage. It incorporates language that provides prison sentences and fines for people violating electronic communication storage for commercial advantages or private financial gain.

If you are a California resident currently considering divorce, you should know that there are many specific legal advantages and disadvantages that are not always readily apparent. For example, painting your spouse in a negative light may be less important than resolving custody issues and establishing visitation rights that will enhance your children's long-term development.

Your family law attorney can assist you in identifying specific strengths and weaknesses in your particular situation. In many cases, your spouse's use of social media may be less important than you realize in accomplishing the overall goals of your divorce.

Source: U.S. Department of Justice-Criminal Resource Manual, "Unlawful Access to Stored Communications—18 U.S.C. § 2701" Nov. 13, 2014

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