Custody Case Serves As Reminder Of Dangers Of Facebook

facebook divorceBy Matt Allen


A recent child custody battle with a unique Facebook twist once again has divorce lawyers warning clients about the perils of using social networks when going through a divorce.

In this instance, an Indiana woman created a fake profile of a 17-year-old girl on Facebook to get information out of her ex-husband.

The only problem was her ex was a step ahead of her, though his gamble was far too risky to warrant his actions, according to two Cordell & Cordell divorce attorneys.

David Voelkert’s ex-wife, Angela, friended David on Facebook under the pretense of teenager “Jessica Studebaker” in hopes of extracting information from him to use in the former couple’s upcoming child custody fight, according to The Smoking Gun.

From the beginning, David suspected it was his ex-wife so he had a notarized affidavit drawn up in which he claims, “I am lying to this person in extent to gain positive proof that it is indeed my ex-wife trying to again tamper in my life…and to prove to my court that my ex-wife will not leave my personal life alone.”

However, the FBI did not know that David knew it was his ex-wife so they arrested him on a felony charge for allegedly installing a listening device in her vehicle, a claim he made up through his Facebook messages.

Charges were eventually dropped against David after he proved that he knew all along that his ex-wife was the one sending him messages from the “Studebaker” account.

Though it may appear on the surface that David’s gamble playing along with the ruse didn’t hurt him once the charges were dismissed, Cordell & Cordell attorney Carrie H. Westbrook said she would never advise a client to engage in this kind of activity.

“There isn’t one advantage I can think of for doing this relative to a custody battle,” Westbrook said.”Even if it were arguably relevant, you would be able to go into court with much cleaner hands if you were simply to subpoena information showing that she in fact set up the account and friended the ex-husband pretending to be someone she was not.”

Another Cordell & Cordell divorce lawyer, Ashley A. Hughes, said in any proceeding that involves children, the paramount question is going to be what is in the children’s best interest.

“It gets difficult to argue that you, as a parent, are acting and capable of proceeding in the best interest of the children when each party is so preoccupied with obtaining dirt on the other parent,” she said.

In this case, Hughes said she believes the evidence that David’s ex-wife had set up a fake account as a 17-year-old girl and tried to friend him on Facebook in and of itself would have been persuasive to a court that she may not be capable of acting in the best interest of the children.

Given David’s ex-wife’s actions she is certainly not capable of fostering a loving relationship between David and the children, which again would be contrary to the children’s best interests, according to Hughes.

Any potential gains from playing along with his ex-wife’s ruse were lost when David engaged in the deceitful behavior, even if the purpose behind it was to “out” her actions, Hughes said.

“Going to these lengths to dupe her just shows the court that you are as unstable as she is and most judges of which I’m aware hate this kind of gamesmanship between the parties,” Westbrook said. “This case exemplifies the risk he took in and of itself: he was charged with a federal crime.”

Even though David was able to get the federal case against him dismissed, he was still arrested, held in custody for four days, and has shown the court that he too is willing to do anything, even go to jail, in order to gain an “upper hand,” Hughes said.

“There are no real pros to the actions that he undertook,” she said. “The pros were eliminated when he too showed that he was willing to go to any length, not to show that he is truly the best caretaker for the child, but to show that she is worse.”

End of Content Icon

One comment on “Custody Case Serves As Reminder Of Dangers Of Facebook

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *