Let's examine a hypothetical situation: a married San Antonio man is in the process of getting a divorce. He has been separated from his wife for some months and he sees no reason to wait until the divorce is final to begin dating. So he signs up with an online dating service and is asked if he's married. And he's asked if he has kids.
This is the time for him to pause, swallow hard and answer truthfully, a group of family law attorneys say. When someone is filling out a dating questionnaire and is thinking of divorcing, or is in the process of divorcing, or is in the midst of a child custody dispute, they should be scrupulously honest, the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (AAML) insists.
Why is a little fib about marital status or parental status so dangerous? Because the lies someone tells online are public information that can be used against that person in divorce and custody proceedings.
According to a recent AAML survey, those lies are increasingly being used against people in those proceedings, too. Fifty-nine percent of responding AAML members said they've seen a rise in cases citing evidence found on dating websites.
If you think about it, it makes a lot of sense. Let's go back to our hypothetical situation with the San Antonio man. Let's say he's a still-married father of two young children and let's say he claimed he's single and has no kids.
While his odds of getting a date might be greater by being less than forthcoming, his odds of being granted child custody will undoubtedly decrease if a judge is informed that the dad denied he's a father.
"Dating 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," the president of the AAML said.
If you're going to use a dating site, or use Facebook, Twitter or other social media, talk over your online presence with a family law attorney in the course of your discussions about what you want from your divorce.
Source: American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, "Dating Websites Providing More Divorce Evidence Says Survey: Nation's Top Matrimonial Lawyers Cite Match.com as Most Common Source," Feb. 11, 2013
- Our Bexar County firm represents clients in San Antonio divorce and child custody disputes.