For many Alabama residents, logging on to Facebook has become a habit of everyday life. While most use the website to keep in touch with friends and family, the website has become increasingly used in court cases. Family law cases are no exception, as Facebook posts can affect everything from divorce cases to child support issues.
One man recently learned this the hard way, after he posted Facebook pictures of himself holding cash and liquor. The 23-year-old man was the father of a two-year-old, but the man’s failure to pay child support for the child caused officials to investigate his Facebook page.
A court later ordered Facebook to give the district attorney’s office access to the man’s account. Based on what they found, the man was charged with a felony for failing to support his child.
The man’s case is not unique, as state authorities around the country have taken to Facebook to investigate individuals’ real lives. If photographs are found indicating the person has more assets than they let on, like in the case above, it can allow agencies to apply for a search warrant.
Because child support is determined in part based on a noncustodial parent’s income and ability to pay, Facebook photos that contradict a person’s claims that he or she cannot afford a certain child support amount may be invaluable in court proceedings. At the least, the photos may require the noncustodial parent to explain his or her financial situation in court.
While Facebook is a useful new tool in child support proceedings, it is one of many that may be used to help determine a person’s ability to pay child support. Accordingly, individuals should work with a qualified family law attorney when confronting child support issues, whether they are trying to obtain child support as the custodial parent, or whether they may be ordered to pay child support as the noncustodial parent.
Source: CBS 58, “Father flaunts cash on Facebook, busted for child support,” Elizabeth Fay, Mar. 18, 2013