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New Jersey Divorce Lawyer-Social Media Posts: Compelling Evidence or Hearsay?

Posted by Unknown | Jul 04, 2020 | 0 Comments

Even if you have little to no experience with the justice system, you probably have at least some understanding of “hearsay”, which is a legal term used to describe out-of-court statements that cannot be used as evidence in a case.  A good example of hearsay is a statement that a witness alleges to have heard from either the plaintiff or defendant.  The problem with such statements is that they are often affected by faulty perception, erroneous memory or bias against the other party.  Thus, hearsay is determined to be untrustworthy in most cases, but there are limited circumstances under which it may become admissible.  

Hearsay is a complicated concept to begin with, but online communication methods, primarily in the form of social media posts, have taken things to a whole new level.  As you may be aware, contentious divorces tend to center around words and/or actions that make one or both parties appear deceptive, abusive, mentally unstable, etc.  That's why divorce lawyers tell their clients to be on their best behavior, and refrain from talking about their spouse as much as possible.  With the universal usage of social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, attorneys now have to caution their clients about the repercussions of seemingly innocuous posts.

While social media posts, especially third party and retweeted posts, are technically considered hearsay, a judge may find them compelling enough to be admitted as evidence.  Aside to the content of the post itself, the technical difference between third party and retweeted posts may be critical in determining whether a post is admissible hearsay.  Third party posts are chats and pictures that are accessed through someone else's account , typically a “Friend” of “Follower” of the individual that you are tracking.  This is important to note for individuals who have blocked their spouses, but have mutual family, friends and acquaintances who are still on their spouse's list.  On the other hand, retweeted posts are a duplicate of someone else's post that you place on your page as a courtesy.  In recent years, divorce lawyers have made significant arguments against third party posts, since these were exchanges solely between the other party and a third party individual.  The argument may seem valid if the spouse was not on either party's Friends or Followers list, but if there were no privacy settings on the account, the information would have been readily accessible to the general public.  In such cases, a judge may allow such posts to be admitted depending on the nature of its contents.

Knowing what type of evidence will hold up in court is critical to receiving the equitable settlement that you deserve.  That's why it's important to discuss your situation with an experienced family law attorney.  The attorneys of Villani & DeLuca, P.C. have over 20 years of litigation experience with all types of divorce-related issues, including alimony, custody, child support, and property division.  They will be happy to address your all your concerns during a free initial consultation.

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Vincent DeLuca, Esq.

As a founding partner at Villani & DeLuca, Vincent DeLuca is one of only a few Certified Matrimonial Law Attorney in Ocean County, New Jersey. Mr. DeLuca has helped many clients navigate the delicate details of their own divorce. Mr. DeLuca is also a trained divorce mediator and collaborative divorce attorney. Call today at (732) 751-4991 to speak to Mr. DeLuca or one of our experienced NJ Divorce Lawyers.