A Look at How Social Media is Impacting Divorce Cases

06/23/2016 11:40 am ET | Updated 6 days ago

William Morrow Internet Marketer, Link Builder, Blogger, Entrepreneur, Content Marketing Strategist at SEO POW LTD

Most people with a smartphone are constantly tapped into some form of social media. Sharing cute pictures of kids and pets is simply a routine part of life these days. Some people even use social media to vent frustrations or look for advice.

In a divorce case, however, shares on social media can create ample evidence that can be used against one or both parties to affect alimony, child support, child custody, and more.

Email and Text Messages

Email and text messages are admissible in court and can even be subpoenaed. If one party in the marriage reveals something about a new job or an upcoming bonus that hasn’t been revealed in court, this can be used as evidence that the person isn’t being honest in his or her financial declarations.

Someone once claimed in court that he didn’t have a job, yet he posted about his job online (along with the expensive vacations he took with his girlfriend). With this evidence in court, his request for alimony was denied.

Lawyers advise people to keep all written communication free of sensitive information during a divorce. If you wouldn’t want a judge reading it, don’t write it – anywhere.

Most people don’t list their income on social media, but they find plenty of other ways to brag about their financial prosperity. If someone claims a low income to avoid high alimony or child support payments but posts pictures of expensive vacations or purchases, this can be used against him or her in court.

Even when a spouse is blocked from seeing his estranged wife’s social media, he can still often see what her friends are posting. If she goes on an expensive vacation with a mutual friend and that friend makes a post about the trip, the spouse can use this evidence to prove that his wife isn’t being honest in her finances.

Ben Carrasco, a divorce attorney in Austin, Texas, reports once using a LinkedIn profile to show the existence of a side business (another source of income) that a party had not disclosed in discovery. This information helped his client secure more child support than she would have otherwise received. “It’s amazing the wealth of information now at our fingertips in a divorce case” says Mr. Carrasco. “What would have once taken weeks of research to discover, if at all, can now be found in the click of a mouse”.

Dating Sites
Creating a profile on an online dating site before a divorce is finalized is foolish. Not only does it show evidence of potential cheating, but most people present themselves differently in an online profile than they do in person. If someone is caught saying something different on a dating site than is said in court, it can lead to problems in the divorce case.

Child Custody
Social media reveals what people are doing, where they’re doing it, and when it’s happening. If a mother is working through a child custody case, but posts pictures that show she was drunk when she should have been watching the children, a judge may rule that the children will not be properly cared for by her.

If one party is supposed to be searching for a job, but posts pictures and status updates that reveal he’s playing video games all day, the judge may rule harshly on alimony and child support decisions.

How to Prevent Negative Effects From Social Media
The best thing to do to avoid social media ruining any portion of a divorce case is to simply stop using it. Many people may be tempted to actually delete their accounts and scrub their online lives. However, once litigation has begun, social media becomes evidence. Deleting accounts is actually a destruction of evidence and can cause a lawyer to be sanctioned.

Full Article – http://www.huffingtonpost.com/william-morrow/a-look-at-how-social-medi_b_10633940.html

Islamic State duped by ‘dark web’ mafia site offering murder, mayhem for Bitcoins

– The Washington Times – Wednesday, June 29, 2016

The Islamic State is steering followers to a “dark web” mafia site that offers murder and other mayhem for hire at a price of thousands of dollars in Bitcoins, the online currency.

The problem for the world’s most vicious terrorist army is that hackers in recent weeks have exposed the “Besa Mafia” destination as an elaborate fraud. It is likely run not by the real-life Besa Albania Mafia and its criminal networks in Europe and the United States, but by a guy living in Romania.

This means the Islamic State, also known as ISIL and ISIS, is sending its followers on a money-wasting venture that is not likely to get anybody killed.

The Islamic State’s endorsement of the Besa Mafia site was discovered by the Middle East Media Research Institute.MEMRI, which monitors jihadi traffic, found Islamic State’s June 14 message on the channel Cyber Kahilafah, which is carried on the encrypted messaging app Telegram.

Telegram is its own story. Invented by an exiled Russian technocrat as a way for dissidents to escape the wrath of Vladimir Putin, Telegram has become the go-to platform for jihadis’ planning and commanding terrorist attacks, according to its detractors.

The Besa Mafia location is one of the more intriguing stops on the mysterious dark web. Users can reach this sinister-sounding world anonymously via special browsers, such as The Onion Router, or TOR, that do not leave an IP address — no electronic fingerprints.

Read Full Article – http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2016/jun/29/isis-duped-by-besa-mafia-dark-web-site-offering-mu/

Philippines v China: facts about a much-watched legal battle

MANILA – A UN-backed tribunal is expected to soon deliver a verdict on a Philippine challenge to China’s claims to most of the South China Sea.

Spanning three years, two hearings, and nearly 4,000 pages of evidence, the arbitration case at The Hague is complex.

In essence, China claims most of the sea, even waters approaching neighbouring countries, based on a vaguely defined “nine-dash” Chinese map dating back to the 1940s. The Philippines disputes this.

Here are the key facts on the case:

– What is the tribunal and what are its powers?

The tribunal was set up by the Permanent Court of Arbitration, an intergovernmental organisation established in 1899. The PCA has 116 member states, including the Philippines and China. It is allowed to arbitrate on certain matters of international law, including the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

The five-member tribunal hearing this case is composed of top maritime affairs experts, with the Philippines appointing one member. China waived its right to choose one arbitrator.

The tribunal has the power to set the rules of procedure and make a decision that cannot be appealed. However the tribunal and the PCA have no means to enforce the verdict, with compliance left to parties.

– What are Manila’s key points?

The Philippines has presented five main claims before the tribunal:

1. China is not entitled to exercise what it calls “historic rights” over waters beyond limits defined in UNCLOS, a treaty to which both the Philippines and China are parties.

2. China’s “nine-dash line” has no basis under international law.

3. The various maritime features relied upon by China to assert its claims in the South China Sea are not in fact islands and, as such, are not legally capable of generating such entitlements. China’s recent massive artificial island-building does not change the situation.

4. China violated UNCLOS by preventing the Philippines from exercising its fishing and exploration rights.

5. China has irreversibly damaged the environment by destroying coral reefs, using harmful fishing practises, and catching endangered species in the South China Sea.

– Why did Manila take the action?

The Philippines said, after 17 years of negotiations with China, it had exhausted all political and diplomatic avenues to settle the dispute.

The Philippines calls international law “the great equaliser” allowing small countries to challenge more powerful states. A nation of about 100 million, the Philippines has one of Asia’s weakest militaries, and its economic and diplomatic clout pales in comparison with China’s.

– What is China’s position and how will it react?

China denies the tribunal has jurisdiction on the issue and insists that it will not abide by the decision.

The country’s first move to an unfavourable ruling will be to reject it. But no one is sure what China will do after that. Its response could range from provocative to diplomatic.

On the aggressive end of the spectrum, Beijing may take it as an opportunity to increase its construction activities and further assert its claims by declaring an Air Defence Identification Zone (ADIZ) in the sea, essentially demanding that aircraft transiting it announce themselves to Chinese authorities and follow their instructions.

When it proclaimed one in 2013 that covered islands in the East China Sea disputed with Japan, the move prompted international fury, and Washington made a point of sending warplanes through it without complying with Beijing’s rules.

A more diplomatic option would be to try and mount opposition to the ruling in the UN by challenging the tribunal’s legitimacy. Beijing claims that more than 60 countries back its position on settling disputes in the South China Sea through direct negotiations, and it could seek to call a vote on the issue in the general assembly. But only a handful of countries have explicitly confirmed they support China’s stance.

– If the tribunal can’t enforce its ruling and China has vowed to ignore it, what’s at stake?

Full Article – http://www.bangkokpost.com/news/asia/1017009/philippines-v-china-facts-about-a-much-watched-legal-battle

Vacation Rental Company Faces Lawsuit Over Service Changes

Some customers across the country are outraged, saying VRBO took their money for a service, then changed the terms of that service.

Just steps from sunny cove beach in Santa Cruz is Carrie Walton’s vacation home. She rents it to travelers who book on the website VRBO. Walton paid the company $1,200 for a one year “Platinum membership,” designed to boost her home’s ranking in search results.

“Someone looks, there’s maybe 10 pages of homes, and maybe this way, with platinum, you’ll be on the first page, mostly likely at the top,” she said. “We thought it was worth the cost — it was an investment in marketing.”

Walton said it worked for a few months. Then VRBO started charging travelers a “service fee,” an extra 4 to 9 percent that VRBO pockets.

Walton said it’s killing her business. She thinks travelers aren’t renting her home because it’s more expensive now.

“We didn’t pay a platinum subscription to have VRBO scare business away,” she said.

Walton said VRBO told her it made another change. Her “Platinum membership” alone no longer guaranteed high search results.

Leena Shah’s story echoes Walton’s. She paid a platinum membership fee too and said she is now seeing rentals of her Maui condo drop drastically.

“I’m just throwing my hands up in the air now with VRBO,” Shah said.

Complaints about VRBO litter the internet. Angry homeowners even created a Facebook page.

“We receive dozens and dozens of calls,” said Michael Bowse, an attorney.

Bowse filed a class-action lawsuit against HomeAway, which owns VRBO, accusing the company of bait and switch, and breaching its contracts by charging the new service fee.

“So it essentially took people’s money under one set of circumstances and then changed the circumstances once it took their money,” he said.

Walton and Shah aren’t part of this lawsuit. But they do want their money back.

“I want my money refunded because it’s a breach of contract,” Walton said. “This is not what I signed up for.”

VRBO wouldn’t say whether it would refund Walton and Shah, citing pending litigation.

The company said since adding the new service fee, it’s introduced new security guarantees and “24/7 customer service.”

They said they’re now quote, “Delivering more happy consumers to VRBO owners.”

Source: http://www.nbclosangeles.com/news/local/Vacation-Rental-Company-Faces-Lawsuit-Over-Service-Changes-384217571.html#ixzz4CYZ4bqC3
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