Ever wonder whether the era of online dating has led to more separations and divorces? According to a recent survey of the nation’s top divorce attorneys, the answer is yes. Fifty-nine percent of respondents in the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (AAML) have seen an increase in the number of cases using evidence from dating websites during the past three years.
Online dating contributes to divorce rates, but is also assisting divorce lawyers across the country in building their cases with easy-to-obtain evidence that can become critical to litigation outcomes.
Of those divorce attorneys surveyed, 64% cited Match.com as a primary source, with eHarmony.com running a distant second at 9%. Fifty-seven percent of AAML respondents singled out the “Relationship Status” listed by users as the most common piece of evidence utilized in their divorce cases, while 15% noted Salary and 7% listed Parental Status. There is a wealth of personal information available on these websites, as well as other social media outlets, that can prove valuable to the “enemy.”
Whether you’re married, separated or “it’s complicated,” you may want to complete your online dating profile as accurately as possible to prevent your hypocrisy from becoming Exhibit A. Or better yet, don’t engage in online dating until after your divorce process has concluded. Divorce attorneys lay in wait for this kind of simple evidence that can make a world of difference at trial.
Alton Abramowitz, president of the AAML, explains that “[d]ating website users can often face temptation to embellish some personal information on profiles, but this lack of honesty could prove costly for someone in the middle of a divorce or child custody case.” He adds, “[i]dentifying yourself as single when you are not, or listing that you have no children when you are actually a parent, can represent some key pieces of evidence against you during the divorce process.”
The AAML has also cited Facebook as a go-to primary source for compromising information, as many people continue to keep their profiles completely public and fail to use discretion in what they post or how they interact with others in full view.
Online evidence is everywhere, and is cheap, quick and easy to obtain. No expensive private eyes or forensic accountants, the tools traditionally used to build divorce cases, are needed. Instead, all your spouse’s attorney will need is a Wi-Fi connection and a web browser. Don’t hand your spouse the winning playbook that easily.