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Divorce and property division in the age of social media

Social media is a huge part of Minnesota residents' lives today as a way to keep up on current events, stay connected with friends or network with business associates. Websites like Facebook and Twitter can be a great tool for all of those purposes. And, as certain politicians have recently illustrated, they can also be a way to put a strain on one's marriage and political aspirations.

Social media sites may play a role in causing some divorces, but they can also be useful during the divorce. For one thing, electronic communication is often admissible in court. While this news might make many Minnesotans going through a divorce think of issuing a subpoena for all of an ex's flirty e-mails with old flames, social media evidence may be more useful in terms of property division.

When a married couple divorces in Minnesota, the parties must list all their assets so that they can divide separate property from marital property, and then split the marital property in a way that meets standards of fairness under state law. The parties are legally required to list everything they own in a financial affidavit, but it's not uncommon for some individuals to try to hide some of their assets so that they won't have to divide it with an ex.

This is perhaps especially prevalent in high net worth divorce, in which high asset individuals must divide investments, stock options and other types of complex property. Dividing these assets may be technically challenging, and some unscrupulous individuals try to use the confusion to their advantage by hiding assets.

However, some of these would-be scam artists lie on their affidavits and then post comments or photos online that reveal that their net worth is actually much greater than they said it was. Photos of expensive vacations or revelations about a work bonus could be especially relevant evidence in such cases.

Living in the digital age has many advantages, but it also means it can be harder to conceal the truth. It's important for Minnesota residents going through a divorce to get help understanding how the process works and how they can protect their interests when an ex is trying to take advantage of them.

Source: Forbes, "How Social Media Can Affect Your Divorce," Jeff Landers, Aug. 20, 2013

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