How Facebook Affects Custody, Divorce, and protective Order Cases in Iowa and Illinois

Facebook is used by over a billion people every day, and as such it has an important role to play in many divorce, custody, and protective order cases that take place in the states of Iowa and Illinois.

Facebook is one of the most-used services in the history of the world, connecting over a billion people.  Many people use facebook to communicate with family and friends almost to the exclusion of telephones, email, and instant messaging.  Since the overwhelming majority of facebook communication is about social matters (rather than work or business), facebook can be a source of useful evidence in a custody, divorce, or protective order case in Illinois or Iowa.  It can also be a source of significant problems for a person who has such a case pending.

As an attorney whose practice includes many divorce, custody, and protective order cases in the Iowa District Courts and the Illinois Circuit Courts, I can think of numerous times that a client’s case has been greatly improved through the proper use of facebook evidence.  We have been able to show that the client’s interest in being a part of their child’s life was genuine and sincere by showing facebook messages and posts that exuded fatherly and motherly love for the child.  I have also had clients who were accused of domestic violence, yet the facebook messages we obtained and produced in court showed that the picture being painted by the opposing party was not accurate.  In still other cases, facebook posts have gone a long way to showing that a client accused of willfully violating a court order had not in fact done so.

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However, facebook is a double-edged sword.  I can also think of cases in both Illinois and Iowa where a client has taken action through their facebook posts that resulted in accusations that ranged from poor parenting to criminal charges that affected the divorce or custody case.   There have also been situations where a client’s facebook posts are the basis for an alleged violation of a protective order.  For those reasons, I like to work with my clients to ensure that their facebook and other online activities are conducted in a manner that is beneficial, rather than harmful, to the case.

When it comes to obtaining facebook evidence, it is usually rather straightforward to obtain the posts and messages that the client can see, as the client can be instructed as to how to provide the facebook posts and messages to us in a form that can be used in court.  The more involved process is where the facebook posts or messages at issue are not something that the client can see through their own facebook account.  In those cases, it may be necessary to subpoena the information from facebook, which involves issuing out-of-state subpoenas and a process that takes much longer.  In such cases, it is wise to not wait until the last minute as obtaining the needed evidence can take weeks or even months in some cases.

Facebook evidence is something that cannot be ignored these days when dealing with cases involving children or protective orders.  Those who have such a case pending in Iowa or Illinois should work with their attorney to ensure that the needed evidence is preserved and obtained so that it can be used properly in court.

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