Digital Divorce

March 28, 2016

Gavel 001 No Credit stockexpert imageThe days of the process server having a secure job may be coming to an end. Thanks, Facebook. It was just a matter of time.

A Manhattan judge recently issued a ruling for a woman who wanted to serve her estranged husband divorce papers through Facebook. The Daily Post didn’t mention it, but it is probably a safe bet she unfriended him as well.

Victor Blood-Dzraku and Eleanora Baidoo were married in a civil ceremony in 2009. It didn’t take long for the marriage to fall apart after Blood-Drazku didn’t follow through on his promise of a traditional Ghanaian wedding. According to Baidoo’s attorney, the couple never even lived together following the wedding.

Baidoo took to Facebook to deliver the divorce paperwork since Blood-Dzraku doesn’t have a fixed address and only communicated with his wife through prepaid cell phones and Facebook. Baidoo wasn’t trying to embarrass her soon-to-be-ex, those were the only two ways she had to communicate with him.

With the court’s ruling, Facebook could open a new channel for advertising: Lawyers.

As for Victor Sena Blood-Dzraku, he just became a test case for what could be a change in how legal documents are delivered. That’s where the process server’s job may be on the line.

Technology Doesn’t Always Make Divorce Easier Though

Technology has complicated marriage. Lawyers say social media has played a role in over 50 percent of divorces — even for couples who don’t have Facebook, Twitter or other social media accounts. But when a couple splits a decision must be made about who keeps the iTunes account, a shared email address and even the online business must be considered.

It isn’t all bad news. Digital evidence can bring quicker settlements. A recent guide published by AVG provides guidance on these as well:

  • How to make an inventor and divide up digital assets
  • Social media in divorce
  • Digital tools to make divorce easier

From the shared wedding video over on YouTube to the baby pictures on Instagram and the vacation shots on Flickr, the digital memories still exist as if nothing has happened. Even while you debate who will get the thousands of songs on Spotify.

It can be a tricky balance. Due to the unprecedented extent that our lives exist online, couples getting a divorce are in new territory.

In reality, the situation is nothing more than a new angle on an age-old conundrum. Yes, there are gadgets and digital assets to be divided, but that isn’t too different from splitting the proceeds of the sale of the house or custody of the dog. Mostly, digital investments can be dived in half, or only one person gets them.

The major difference is how much of your identity and personality exist in a shared digital context — and how much the actions and memories are interwoven.

Social Media and Divorce

The average American, each day:

  • Sends or receives a median of 41 Tweets, and
  • Spends 18 percent of their time online on social media accounts, and
  • Spends 40 minutes on their Facebook feed

With those statistics, it shouldn’t be surprising that the adoption of social media has changed the way individuals meet and fall in love. It has also altered the way people divorce.

In family law, it isn’t a trend — it is a reality of life.  According to new studies of American Academy of Matrimonial Law (AAML) lawyers regarding divorce proceedings:

  • 99 percent say text messages are frequently utilized as proof,
  • 97 percent have seen a climactic jump in evidence from smartphones
  • 81 percent have used data collected from social media

That’s not all. Social media use also adds to jealousy or apprehension in marital relationships. One in three divorces is not associated to online relationships.

Technology to Make Divorce Less Painful

Michelle Crosby was nine when she was forced to stand before a judge and tell him which parent she wanted to live with. It was a heart-rending decision for a child to make in the adult environment.

Divorce is considered by experts to be one of the most stressful life events someone can go through. Michelle grew up and wanted to make sure that there would be no other kids put in the position she was put in.

She became an attorney and thirteen years later figured it was time to try to make the divorce process less painful. She self-funded her idea for a few years and started to see the patterns develop. The missing piece of the puzzle was technology.

The result was

Wevorce is a service accessible from anywhere with an Internet connection. The multi-step program guides couples related to finances, property and the children.

Before being given access to the service, couples are screened to make sure there has been no domestic violence or abuse. Once approved, the technology allows everyone to see where the divorce process is, where it might be stuck and what steps remain undone.

The legislation has traditionally been hesitant to adopt new technology. Despite the doubt of the judicial system, Wevorce has grown from being available only in a few America cities to being accessible nationally. The business is also answering inquiries from other nations.

For Michelle, the biggest indicator of success is her clients.

“We’ve worked with over a hundred families and kept all but one out of court. We are proud of that fact because it allows the families to get back to parenting and not stuck in an awkward transition.”

untangle the threads. It’s no longer a case of you “keep the CDs, and I’ll take the stereo and speakers”.