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Social media sites used in child support investigations

The State of Florida mandates that every child has the right to adequate support. Child support determinations do not take parental desires into account. Instead, such determinations focus solely on the best interests of the child.

It is important to ensure that financial information provided by parents is accurate and complete. Sometimes parents try to hide assets and income in the interest of lowering their child support obligations. On occasion, this can involve conducting complex investigations.

For some child support absconders, Facebook and other social media sites have offered valuable evidence in enforcement. According to a company spokeswoman, Facebook cooperates with prosecutors who present a properly executed warrant, subpoena or court order in providing information about subscribers. This can include pictures, messages, comments, interest, friend lists, IP activity and other information.

One Milwaukee man's failure to pay more than $100,000 in child support back payments triggered felony charges and a federal warrant. Investigators obtained information from the man's Facebook page and other online sources indicating that he was hiding income as he earned $100 to $200 per hour as a personal trainer.

Apparently, such warrants are not rare and can be just one way to ensure that child support determinations are based on accurate information.

Financial information provided by parents in determining child support should also be realistic. A parent's work history is highly relevant in the question of how much they can be expected to earn in the future. If a parent has not worked for a while, it is unrealistic to expect him or her to start earning a large amount of money right away.

Calculating child support can be quite complicated. Confirming financial information sometimes requires interrogatories and depositions. An experienced attorney can ensure that child support determinations are fair and that the process runs as smoothly as possible.

Source: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Investigators tap Facebook for details in child support case," John Diedrich, Aug. 3, 2012

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