Life today is not the same as it was 20 years ago. The amount of information available with a click of the mouse makes us all better parents, patients and consumers. I’ve watched as the Internet’s influence on my clients has made them better-prepared for the important, and sometimes quite complicated, issues at hand. It has also been a great equalizer in the knowledge gap about finances that sometimes develops in marriages.
The net also comes with better ways for divorce professionals to communicate with each other, review documents and even use electronic signatures.
With all the conveniences the online world offers, there are some negatives, too. A friend of mine summed it up: If you don’t want it to be on the Internet, don’t do it. That piece of advice stuck in my memory because time and time again, people get themselves in trouble - even though they’ve seen it happen to others.
Think about it: How many times has Facebook changed people's marriages? Several noteworthy cases of divorce being caused by someone’s use of Facebook have emerged in recent years, like this one:
Jill discovers that Jack was unfaithful because a friend of Jack’s posted some indiscreet photos of him with someone who wasn’t Jill. To add insult to injury, the meta-data on the photo reveals the precise coordinates of the house Jack was at when the photo was taken, the date it was taken, and at what time.
It’s important to note that carelessness on the Internet can also cause grief to those who have already separated and are pursuing a divorce. Defaming your spouse or revealing too much information about them online could hurt your case and possibly affect the outcome.
Harassment is also easier online than in real life. There was a case in New England in which the husband emailed the wife disturbing images, without any words - after the judge ordered that he not speak or write to his wife. This “clever” stunt landed the husband a contempt hearing.
While Google may be a great tool for finding mediators and financial professionals such as myself, it is important to recognize the World Wide Web as a sort of double-edged sword. Conventional wisdom says what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas...and I say what happens on the Internet stays on the Internet. So be careful, and don’t type or do anything you wouldn’t want the whole world to see.