Many Cincinnati residents may have heard of the local man who was ordered to post a public apology to his ex-wife on Facebook after reportedly posting emotionally harmful comments to her on his social networking page.

According to reports, an earlier court order had prevented the man from being physically and mentally abusive to his ex-wife in the midst of ongoing divorce and child custody proceedings. Nevertheless, his subsequent Facebook violation led to his contempt. In order to avoid jail time and a hefty fine, the man was ordered to post a public apology on the social networking site.

This story raises concerns for couples dealing with a divorce. Social networking sites make individuals feel as if they are simply sharing their thoughts and feelings with personal friends. However, these postings are permanent and public in nature. As a result, the postings create an everlasting record that could be subject to a subpoena under appropriate circumstances.

The accessibility of online information brings to mind important questions: Should social networking information be a factor in child custody and divorce proceedings? Should a court be permitted to mandate apologies for these incidents? Either way, many people are already aware of how Facebook and the Internet may affect matters like their employment. For this reason, maybe this information is similarly applicable in divorce and child custody proceedings. For example, this material might be used to reveal which parent will foster a better environment to raise a child, among other factors.

As a result, those involved in negotiating these settlements may benefit from being wary of what they are posting online. Remember, everything you do or say online is permanent and exploitable in a court of law.

Source: Akron Beacon Journal, "Cincinnati man not jailed for stopping Facebook apology," Lisa Cornwell, March 19, 2012