The New York Daily News reports that Richmond County Supreme Court Judge Catherine DiDomenico (no relation) terminated a woman’s $850 per month alimony payment after she posted evidence of ability to work on a blog and on Facebook.
Three years ago, Dorothy McGurk won the settlement from her husband when she claimed that a 1997 car accident left her unable to work. When her ex-husband, Brian McGurk, saw her blog posts in which she wrote about belly dancing every day, he brought the matter back before the court. McGurk’s lawyer, Thomas Kyle, “said the blog posts convinced [the judge that] the dancer was fit enough to fend for herself.” Kyle continued, “If she could blog for hours, if she could dance the day away in Manhattan, then how is it she couldn’t hold down a job?”
Dorothy McGurk also helped dig her own grave with a Facebook post. When a Facebook friend asked why she hadn’t posted pictures of her belly dancing on the social network, McGurk reportedly replied, “Gotta be careful what goes on line pookies, …The ex would love to fry me with that.” Ironic.
Judge DiDomenico terminated the monthly payments from the ex-husband and awarded him $5,000, plus interest for lawyer’s fees. The judge also ordered the ex-wife to move out of the couples’ house and awarded the ex-husband 60% of it’s value.
This story is a good example of some of the social media lessons that I constantly teach:
- Assume that whatever you post online is public and that anyone can find it. Indeed, the ability for people to find your stuff is the purpose of a blog, or other website. If you want to keep something private, keep it offline.
- Don’t assume that your social networking is private — even if you restrict your posts to a small number of Facebook (or other social network) friends; you never know how what you write may surface. McGurk certainly didn’t expect her Facebook comment to be read by her ex husband.
- If you’re a lawyer, use social media as a tool to help win your case.