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Dating profiles, Facebook pages: Fair game for divorce court?

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So, while you're busy telling your teen not to post sexy images or teacher disses on their social media accounts, just how careful are you about what you're posting?

You know to be wary of boss-repellent postings. But what if others could come back to haunt you in divorce court?

That's the reality facing a Connecticut couple, who were recently ordered to divulge their Facebook and dating website passwords by a judge.

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As Forbes writer Kashmir Hill explains, lawyers routinely get this sort of information by visiting a person's page or asking them to turn over evidence - not by actually signing into them.

What is the reason for this more-extreme "court-authorized hacking" in this case, she asks?

(For one thing, it violates Facebook's terms of service, which asks users not to share their passwords.)

Apparently, the husband saw some incriminating things on the couple's home computer and thought there may be more evidence lurking there about: "...how she feels about her children and her ability to take care of them and that it would help his client in arguing for full custody."

The mind boggles at the kinds of exasperated parent vents that lurk everywhere in social media accounts and could look incriminating in a certain light: complaints about the little monsters, Gravol jokes, Mommy-needs-a-drink quips and escape fantasies.

But some observers cheer the invasion of privacy.

Blogger Nicole Fabian-Weber writes that the judge's move "oughta be a new rule for divorcing couples."

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"People don't just break up or divorce anymore, they break up or divorce then taunt, stalk, prank, and bother each other via social media," she writes.

"There's no such thing as making a clean break. Your ex is always sort of in your life - no matter how far they are from you geographically - as long as the Internet exists."

It's enough for many people to wonder what the heck we're all doing online, anyway.

The husband's divorce lawyer in the Connecticut case told Forbes that he has no computer or e-mail accounts.

"I see the information people can get from computers, in lawsuits and through hacking," he told Forbes. "They scare the hell out of me."

Do you think social media accounts should fall under court scrutiny? And either way, are we sharing way too much?

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About the Author

Tralee Pearce has been a reporter at The Globe and Mail since 1999, starting as a writer in the paper’s Style section. She joined the new Life section for its launch in 2007. She covers parenting and family issues for the daily section. More

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