A judge in Connecticut has ordered a divorcing couple to swap Facebook passwords, along with their logins to online dating sites. Oh, these modern times.
When couples divorce, they usually have to divide up homes, cars, kids and record collections, but now some courts are requiring that they have to swap social media passwords. Forbes reports that Connecticut Judge Kenneth Shluger ordered that the attorneys for soon-to-split couple Stephen and Courtney Gallion exchange “their client’s Facebook and dating website passwords.” The request was apparently made when one spouse made statements on Facebook that the other spouse wanted to use to bolster their case for full custody of the couple’s children. So be wary next time you log on to jokingly threaten to FedEx your kid to their grandparents for drawing on the walls in permanent marker. (Not that NewsFeed has done that, of course.)
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As anyone who has ever watched The People’s Court knows, trolling the opposing party’s social media sites for incriminating evidence has been a staple of the American justice system since such sites were invented. But attorneys usually get evidence by simply visiting someone’s page, not by gaining legal access to their accounts. But judging by the Forbes report, there may be a legal trend of judges cutting out the middle man of friend requests and simply forcing litigants to hand over the passwords to their Facebook accounts.
Since many divorcing couples are acrimonious at best, judges realize that parties may be worried that a soon-to-be ex-spouse will seize the opportunity, log into their ex’s account and tag them in every unflattering photo on the entire Internet. To work around that possibility, the judge in the Connecticut case stipulated that “Neither party shall visit the website of the other’s social network and post messages purporting to be the other.” We guess they’ll have to have their fun on Twitter instead.