It has emerged that sites including Facebook and Twitter are being used to find proof that divorcing spouses are concealing assets during the legal process.
The problem of parties attempting to undervalue or conceal their assets is common to UK divorce cases and can result in an unfair division of marital wealth. Judges have therefore reacted by allowing divorce lawyers to use information on social media platforms as evidence of such wrongdoing.
By obtaining court orders to perform this online monitoring, divorce lawyers can draw upon a wealth of information about the individual involved, who will not be aware that their personal profiles are being accessed.
As well as helping to determine whether or not the court has been deceived about the extent of an individual’s assets, this can help to locate where the missing wealth is.
In cases of incomplete disclosure of assets and other instances of financial deception, these court orders override traditional privacy laws. As the number and popularity of social media sites increases, posts and direct messages are revealing more incriminating evidence for ex-spouses seeking to hive off wealth.
Sites have been careful to protect their own legal position in such matters, stating that private information relating to users will only be released to legal authorities operating according to due legal process and the announcement of these court orders therefore legitimates the use of social media information in divorce cases.
The growth of virtual currency such as Bitcoin has complicated matters further, as this provides an ideal opportunity for spouses to attempt to conceal assets online. It can therefore be expected that divorce lawyers will begin to search for evidence of such currencies being used so that the value can be written into court orders relating to marital finances.
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