A Washington man recently landed in some hot water with his wife, when she discovered his other wife through the "People You May Know" feature on Facebook.
As it turns out, Alan O'Neill had never divorced his first wife. He moved out in 2009, legally changed his name and then remarried.
But his bigamy was discovered through Facebook, when his first wife went to the new wife’s page, only to find a wedding photo of the happy couple. After contacting her mother-in-law, O’Neill showed up at his first wife’s apartment and confessed that he and wife #1 were still married.
He asked his first wife not to tell anyone and he vowed to fix the problem, but he overlooked one key fact — never underestimate a scorned woman. Wife # 1 alerted the authorities. Now, he could face up to one year in jail, if convicted.
Social media is taking over the world and influencing how people socialize. It’s no big surprise then that Facebook, Twitter and other LinkedIn have become powerful tools for a divorce lawyer. And not just for marketing. Over the past few years, social media has helped divorce lawyers tremendously as it comes to making the case.
In fact, the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers found that 81 percent of its members have come across evidence from social media sources.
In Arizona, bigamy is a class 5 felony, which means that it’s a serious charge. In order to be convicted, the state must prove that a person knowingly has married another person and that such a marriage would have been a legal marriage if it weren’t for the first spouse.
So in Arizona, an angry spouse in a bigamy case has two legal avenues for revenge — divorce and prosecution. In a slam-dunk case such as O’Neill’s case, the prosecution would probably have no trouble at all locking up the bigamous spouse.
The fact of the matter is that socializing isn’t a one-on-one thing at a coffee shop anymore. With people’s social lives being broadcast on the Internet, it becomes very difficult to keep one’s dangerous secrets away from the investigative eyes of divorce attorneys or vengeful ex-spouses.
Or, in the case of Alan O’Neill, from the eyes of the cops.
- Find a Phoenix Divorce Lawyer (FindLaw)
- Is Facebook the Reason For Divorce? (The Phoenix Family Law News Blog)
- Facebook Friend Suggestion Gets Man Charged With Bigamy (FindLaw’s Legally Weird)